The Lives

The seven “Objectivist” writers featured on this website: Louis Zukofsky, Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, William Carlos Williams, Carl Rakosi, Basil Bunting and Lorine Niedecker, were a group of English-language poets loosely united by shared political and poetic affinities1Each of these writers were leftist in their politics, with several possessing strong Marxist or socialist sympathies. The poetics of each writer might be described as sympathetically heterogeneous: much of their early work was influenced by Ezra Pound, and owed a great deal to the imagist tradition. and connected by a shifting web of friendships and publications beginning in the mid-1920s and stretching into the early twenty-first century. As a group, the “Objectivists” were publicly invented in February 1931, when Louis Zukofsky guest-edited the “OBJECTIVISTS” 1931 issue of Poetry magazine. Zukofsky, who had been given full control of the magazine’s contents by its editor Harriet Monroe, used the space to set out an “Objectivist” program,2Zukofsky’s “Program: “Objectivists” 1931.” can be read on the website of the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=59515 describe the critical principles of ‘sincerity’ and ‘objectification’ in a short essay on the poetry of Charles Reznikoff,3This essay, “Sincerity and Objectification: With Special Reference to the Work of Charles Reznikoff,” can be read on the website of the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=59516 and present work by more than twenty contributors.4The full contents of the issue, including a table of contents and full list of contributors, are accessible on the Poetry Foundation’s website:  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/detail/70538. The next month’s issue included an editorial response from Monroe, entitled “The Arrogance of Youth,”5Monroe’s editorial can be read online at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=59518 and Monroe published a selection of letters from readers and a reply from Zukofsky in the correspondence section of the April issue.6Monroe concluded the correspondence by printing a postcard from Ezra Pound which claimed that “this is a number I can show to my Friends. If you can do another eleven as lively you will put the mag. on its feet,” followed by her own humorous riposte: “Alas, we fear that would put it on its uppers! [teeth]” (58). The full exchange of correspondence published by Monroe in the April 1931 issue can be found online on the Poetry Foundation’s website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=38&issue=1&page=65.

The “‘OBJECTIVISTS’, 1931” issue of Poetry was followed in 1932 by the publication of An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology by TO, Publishers, a publishing venture founded by Zukofsky, who was employed as its managing editor, and George and Mary Oppen, who funded the press and supervised the production of its books from Le Beausset, a small village in the southeast of France. Edited by Zukofsky, the anthology contained work by 14 writers, the majority of whom had also been included in the ‘Objectivists’ 1931 issue of Poetry the year before.7The 14: Louis Zukofsky, Basil Bunting, Mary Butts, Frances Fletcher, Robert McAlmon, George Oppen, Ezra Pound, Carl Rakosi, Kenneth Rexroth, Charles Reznikoff, William Carlos Williams, Forrest Anderson, T.S. Eliot, and R.B.N Warriston (the number swells to 15 if you count Jerry Raisman, who was credited as a collaborator with Zukofsky on a single poem). Of the 14, the following 8 had also been featured in the February 1931 issue of Poetry: Bunting, Rakosi, Oppen, Zukofsky, Williams, Renzikoff, McAlmon, and Rexroth In addition to some 200 pages of poetry, the anthology included a new preface by Zukofsky8The preface, titled “Recencies in Poetry,” was the text of a talk Zukofsky had given at the Gotham Book Mart in August 1931 to clarify his editorial statements in the February 1931 issue of Poetry. and reprinted Zukofsky’s “Program ‘Objectivists’ 1931” as the book’s appendix.9The full table of contents for this anthology can be found at Z-Site: http://www.z-site.net/biblio-research/the-objectivists-and-their-publications/.

The group considered here as the “Objectivists” corresponds almost exactly with the list of writers who appeared in both of the initial “Objectivist” publications: Zukofsky himself, Carl Rakosi, Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, Basil Bunting, and William Carlos Williams. While work by Robert McAlmon and Kenneth Rexroth was included in both foundational “Objectivist” publications and both participated in abortive publication schemes involving other members of this group,10McAlmon and William Carlos Williams met in New York City in 1920 at a party hosted by Lola Ridge. They quickly became friends and joint publishers of Contact, a cheaply-produced little magazine. McAlmon and Williams published four issues of Contact between December 1920 and the summer of 1921, when McAlmon left for Paris. In June 1923, Williams published a fifth and final issue of Contact with Monroe Wheeler. The initial run of Contact can be read here: (pdf). After moving to Paris in 1921, McAlmon founded the Contact Publishing Company and published important modernist writing under the Contact Editions imprint, including books by his wife Bryher (Annie Ellerman), Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Williams and himself. In 1932, Williams revived Contact, and while McAlmon was listed as an “associate editor” on the masthead and contributed to the magazine, his involvement in the actual editing and publishing of the second run of the magazine was nil. Instead, Williams managed the second run of Contact with the novelist Nathanael West. The impetus (and funding) for the magazine’s revival had been provided by Sally and Martin Kamin and David Moss, ambitious but inexperienced publishers who had revived McAlmon’s Contact Editions imprint the year previous in order to publish West’s novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell in New York City. The second run of Contact consisted of just three issues, all of which were published in 1932 (February, May, and October), and the magazine folded when West left for Hollywood and Williams resigned as an editor. Scans of much of the second run of Contact can be viewed here: (pdf). For more on McAlmon and Williams’ involvement with Contact, see Paul Mariani’s William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked, pp. 174-186 (the first run), and pp. 319-339 (the second run). In the early 30s, Rexroth planned to found a press with his friends Milton Merlin and Joseph Rabinowitch. As they conceived it, the RMR Press (the initial letters of their last names) would publish a series of pamphlets and short books, with a special emphasis on poetry. Zukofsky, Pound, and Williams all wrote to Rexroth in support of the venture, offering selections of their own work for consideration and providing extensive lists of authors they felt might be interested in being included in the series. Zukofsky named Reznikoff, Oppen, Bunting, Rene Taupin, Whittaker Chambers/George Crosby, and Harry Roskolenko; and Pound recommended Rexroth approach Wyndham Lewis, Man Ray, Hilaire Hiler, Robert McAlmon, and Ford Madox Ford. Despite the several recommendations, RMR Press never advanced beyond the planning stage. For more background on RMR, see A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, pp. 65, 75-76. neither referred to themselves as “Objectivists” after the 1930s and neither is given detailed consideration on this site.11Like Rakosi and Niedecker, both McAlmon and Rexroth were geographically peripheral to the New York group. Zukofsky wrote to Rexroth (then living in San Francisco) in November 1930 from Madison, explaining that he had read some of Rexroth’s poetry in Charles Henri Ford’s little magazine Blues, and soliciting work for the upcoming issue of Poetry he was editing. Though Rexroth appeared in the two earliest “Objectivist” publications, with his work occupying nearly 40 pages(!) of An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology, he and Zukofsky did not meet in person until the summer of 1957, when Zukofsky spent a summer teaching in San Francisco. For those interested to better understand the nature of Rexroth and Zukofsky’s relationship, significant portions of their correspondence have been published. Mark Scroggins presents two long letters from Rexroth to Zukofsky in the early 1930s detailing his philosophical and poetic stances and his disagreements with Zukofsky’s positions in a special Rexroth centenary issue of the Chicago Review in 2006: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25742335, and several long letters from Zukofsky to Rexroth can be found in the edition of Zukofsky’s selected letters edited by Barry Ahearn and published on Z-Site: http://www.z-site.net/selected-letters-of-louis-zukofsky/ (see pp. 46-62; 64-72; 138-144; 186-200). While Rexroth praised Zukofsky as “one of the most important poets of my generation” in his review of Some Time, his relationships with other “Objectivists” were never good. At Zukofsky’s urging, Rexroth and his then wife Andrée met George and Mary Oppen in San Francisco in 1931, but the couples did not get along well and their contact was limited to a few social engagements. Rexroth and Rakosi had a similarly superficial acquaintance in later years. While Rexroth described Oppen as “a remarkable poet” in one interview, he also told several people that Rakosi had been a secret Stalinist agent and privately accused George Oppen of being a hit man for the Communist Party, neither of which was even remotely true, and seems to have pursued an affair with George’s wealthy and well-connected sister June Oppen Degnan (A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, 138-141, 389, 408). Rexroth would later remark: “Almost all of the people that Zukofsky picked as Objectivists, didn’t agree with him, didn’t write like him or like one another, and didn’t want to be called Objectivists,” though this did not stop him from insisting on his own centrality at the 1973 National Poetry Conference held in Allendale, Michigan and dedicated to the “Objectivists” (American Poetry in the Twentieth Century, 111). According to Linda Hamalian: “Suffering from a bad back and in a vile mood, Rexroth had shown up a day late. He stormed into the conference dining room and cried, “They can’t do this to me.” Without saying hello, he walked to by the table where Mary and george Oppen, Robert Duncan, Leah and Carl Rakosi were sitting. He was irritated that he had been given a bunk in student quarters, like everyone else” (A Life of Kenneth Rexroth389). For a good account of Rexroth’s association with Zukofsky, Oppen, and Rakosi in the 1930s, see A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, 70-76.The most conspicuous absence from the group considered here is that of Ezra Pound, who is not treated as an “Objectivist” here though he was responsible in many ways for the formation and presentation of the “Objectivists” as a group and was a major influence throughout the 1920s and 1930s on the poets considered here, especially Zukofsky, Williams, and Bunting.12Zukofsky had wanted to include Pound in his issue of Poetry, but Pound demurred, though Zukofsky’s contributor notes indicate that he had planned to include a blank page in the issue as Pound’s contribution to the issue: “The editor also regrets the omission of a blank page representing Ezra Pound’s contribution to the issue–a page reserved for him as an indication of his belief that a country tolerating outrages like article 211 of the U. S. Penal Code, publishers’ “overhead,” and other impediments to literary life, “does not deserve to have any literature whatsoever.” Mr. Pound gave over to younger poets the space offered him.” (295) The only poet discussed on this site whose work did not appear in the two foundational “Objectivist” publications is Lorine Niedecker, who wrote to Zukofsky to express her interest in the “movement” late in 1931 after having encountered the “Objectivists” issue of Poetry in her local library. Niedecker and Zukofsky would carry on an extensive lifelong correspondence, and Niedecker is today widely regarded as the only female “Objectivist” poet.13The surviving Niedecker-Zukofsky letters were collected and edited by Jenny Penberthy in Niedecker and the Correspondence with Zukofsky 1931–1970, published in 1993 by Cambridge University Press. My decision to refer to Niedecker as an “Objectivist” poet despite her absence from the early “Objectivist” publishing ventures and group publications is admittedly complicated. While Niedecker was attracted to the “Objectivist” issue of Poetry and deeply influenced by her relationship with Zukofsky, Jenny Penberthy and other attentive readers of Niedecker’s poetry have long noted her intellectual and poetic independence, including surrealist tendencies, of which Zukofsky did not approve, in both her earliest and latest poetry. See Penberthy in How2 and both Ruth Jennison and Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ contributions to Radical Vernacular (pp. 131-179).

Following the financial failure late in 1932 of TO, Publishers,14Before the Oppens discontinued its operations, TO, Publishers published three works: An “Objectivists” Anthology, Williams’ A Novelette and Other Prose and Pound’s Prolegomena 1: How to Read, Followed by The Spirit of Romance, Part 1, all of which were issued as paperbacks from Le Beausset, France in 1932. The Oppens ran into a number of difficulties that hampered the press’ financial viability, including problems of editorial quality produced by having non-English speaking typesetters, numerous difficulties both importing the books into the United States and then marketing and selling them once they had reached New York City. Zukofsky, while an undeniably gifted editor, was, by his own admission, not a very skilled marketer or salesman. Zukofsky, Williams, Reznikoff, and the Oppens reconvened in New York City, where, after several months of planning, they ultimately decided to form a publishing cooperative called The Objectivist Press.15The genesis for The Objectivist Press was a proposal, circulated by Zukofsky in May 1933, regarding the formation of a writer’s collaborative, which Zukofsky wanted to call Writers Extant [WE]. Williams found the idea too complicated, and Zukofsky, Williams, Reznikoff, and the Oppens discussed and revised Zukofsky’s prospectus for a writer’s collaborative and various names for it between May and October 1933, when they ultimately settled on The Objectivist Press and Reznikoff’s very simple editorial statement, which they published on their books’ dust jackets: “The Objectivist Press is an organization of writers who are publishing their work and that of other writers whose work they think ought to be read.” While the press began with a lengthy and ambitious list of works they intended to publish, the press ultimately issued just five books in 1934: Williams’ Collected Poems 1921-1931; Oppen’s Discrete Series; and three works by Reznikoff: Jerusalem the GoldenTestimony; and In Memoriam: 1933, before the collective began to deteriorate.16Signs of trouble for the press were visible almost immediately. Zukofsky wrote to Pound about exhaustion and the possibility of his leaving the press as early as April 12, 1934: “have been sick myself tho working on a C.W. A. job, now transferred to Dep’t of Pub. Welfare, N.Y.C.–6 hrs of continual insult to the intelligence, 2 hrs travel, 1 hr. “lunch.” 9 hrs a day, & then 1-3 hrs of the Obj. Press when I get home. Municipal salary $19 a week. Other salary $0. Which leaves very little time for writing, but I’ve done some. … May have to resign Sec’y of Obj. Press if burden of work continues, & the effort spent on the press does not repay in the way of enough sales allowing us to continue. It’s a ha-a-rd job, & besides there may be necessity for direct action in another field (in add. to poetry)–and aside from publishing–I’m afraid there is now only I’m holding back. You were right last summer about staying clear of becoming an office boy–besides peeple dun’t appreciate.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 156-157). By early 1935, the group had dissolved: Zukofsky had resigned his unpaid position as editor,the Oppens had quit poetry to devote their energies to direct political action, and Williams turned to publishing his work elsewhere, first with Ronald Lane Latimer’s Alcestis Press, and then beginning in 1938, with James Laughlin’s New Directions Press.17The relationship between Williams, Zukofsky, and the Oppens appears to have been strained by late 1934, as a letter from Williams to Zukofsky in March 1935 indicates both that Williams hadn’t heard from Zukofsky for roughly 6 months and that Williams had heard that Zukofsky and the Oppens had had a falling out (The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 212). Zukofsky writes to Pound November 14, 1934 asking about the possibility of Faber & Faber printing his poem “Mantis,” and writes to Pound on February 17, 1935 asking explicitly for help in getting his 55 Poems manuscript published in England with Faber & Faber, which I take as a clear sign that the Objectivist Press had failed by this point: “You can, if it won’t hurt your own name, try and get me published with Faber & Faber. Serly off to Europe with my final arrangement and additions to 55 Poems–a most commendable typscript for you to look at. Time fucks it, and if I keep my MSS. in my drawer or my drawers, I might as well shut up altogether. … If you consent, think it opportune etc, to try my 55 on Faber & Faber, you need not worry about an introduction–I don’t want it–you can write a blurb for the dust-proof jacket if it jets out of you. Noo Yok at a standstill. Haven’t heart from Bill Willyums in moneths.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 160-161). A May 11, 1935 letter to Pound is perhaps Zukofsky’s most explicit statement on what he took as the lessons of the failure of his publishing efforts: “But you needn‘t tell me that “All good books are Blocked by the present fahrty system”-why n hell do you think I asked your aid? Between the New Masses crowd who can’t get the distinction that yr. poetry is one thing & yr. economics another, & yr. unwillingness to even look at my work to see what it says because I won’t embrace Social Credit, then last 3 years-I’ve not only lost whatever chance I might have had with commercial publishers, but have ostracized myself completely. I ain’t weeping about it-Im just seeing by my own lights. … I’ve sacrificed a good deal of my time with To, Objectivist Presscorresponding with 152 poetsetc. to get up an issue of Poetry, an anthology etc., & the good things which resulted were their own cheque. However, I don’t care to do it again. I‘ve even stopped seeing “close friendswho’ve envied my station-to put an end to the bad taste of it all. For example, it is amusing & to a slight degree cheering that The Rocking Horse 5 years after my advent at the Univ. of Wis. has got round to speaking about E.P., W.C.W. etc. as if they were not exactly taboo-but I’m not going to commend the kids or take up correspondence with ’em to keep you & Bill in shape” as you say. It won’t mean anything to you 1 yr. from now-& it won’t get me anywhere.” (The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 120). Reznikoff, the last of the collective’s founding members and the sole owner of a printing press which he operated from the basement of his apartment building, retained the press’ copyright, publishing his collection Separate Way in 1936 under the imprint, well after the time that it had ceased to operate as a cooperative. The imprint remained dormant until Louis and Celia Zukofsky requested its use from Reznikoff for their private publication of Louis’ A Test of Poetry in 1948. While the Zukofskys sent out correspondence for a short time thereafter using The Objectivist Press letterhead with their home address as its current location, the imprint was never again used for future book publications.18See Mark Scroggins’ “The Objectivists and their Publications.

After more than 25 years of near total silence, both intentional19In the case of Oppen, Rakosi, and Bunting, each of whom stopped writing and publishing poetry for long stretches. and due to an inability to find regular publishers for their work,20In the case of Zukofsky, Niedecker, and Reznikoff. the 1960s saw a surge of publishing activity from former “Objectivists,” beginning with the Oppens return to the United States from Mexico in 1959 and George’s resumption of writing and publishing poems in the late 1950s-early 1960s.21Oppen published his first post-silence poems, fittingly, in Poetry magazine (the January 1960 issue contained five poems, his first publications in more than 25 years). His The Materials and Charles Reznikoff’s By the Waters of Manhattan were jointly published in 1962 by New Directions in partnership with George’s sister June Degnan Oppen, the publisher of The San Francisco Review. Williams, the only member of the group to have published his writing continuously through the 1940s and 1950s, died in March of 1963, preventing him from seeing this upsurge in publication during the 1960s, but the decade saw major works published by Oppen, Reznikoff, Zukofsky, Bunting, Rakosi, and Niedecker.22Oppen published The Materials in 1962, This in Which in 1965, and Of Being Numerous in 1968, all with New Directions. Of Being Numerous won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1969. Reznikoff published By the Waters of Manhatan: Selected Verse in 1962 and Testimony, the United States, 1885-1890, the first volume of his long series of documentary poetry taken from the American legal record, in 1965, both with New Directions. After Testimony failed to sell well, New Directions dropped Reznikoff, and he returned to printing his work privately, self-publishing By the Well of Living and Seeing, and the Fifth Book of the Macabbees in 1969 before John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press began publishing his work in 1974. Zukofsky published four books with small presses between 1962 and 1964; editions containing the two halves of All, his collected short poems, were published in the United States and England between 1965 and 1967; his “A” 1-12 was published in London in 1966 and by Doubleday in New York in 1967; and both “A” 13-21 and his and Celia’s translations of Catullus were published in both London and New York in 1969. Bunting published Loquitur and his First Book of Odes with Stuart and Deidre Montgomery’s London-based Fulcrum Press in 1965, and his autobiographical long poem Briggflatts appeared to great acclaim, first in Poetry magazine in January 1966, and later that year in book form from Fulcrum. Fulcrum also published the first edition of his Collected Poems in 1968. Rakosi published Amulet, his first book in more than 25 years, with New Directions in 1967. Niedecker published My Friend Tree in 1961, but this was a small book with very limited distribution. In 1968, however, Niedecker published both her collection North Central with Stuart and Deidre Montgomery’s Fulcrum Press and her T & G: The Collected Poems (1936-1966) through Jonathan Williams’s Jargon Society. Following their various returns to print in the 1960s, each of these writers continued to write and publish poetry until their deaths.

Speaking purely in terms of the lives of these “Objectivists,” each of the seven poets was born within the 25 year period spanning from 1883 and 1908. William Carlos Williams, born in 1883, was easily the eldest member of the group, having been born more more than a decade before Charles Reznikoff. Apart from Williams and Reznikoff, the remaining five poets were all of the same generation, having been born between 1900 and 1908, with George Oppen being the youngest member of the group by more than four years.23William Carlos Williams was born on September 17, 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey; Charles Reznikoff was born on August 31, 1894 in New York City; Basil Bunting was born on March 1, 1900 in Scotswood-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England; Lorine Niedecker was born on May 12, 1903 on Black Hawk Island near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin; Carl Rakosi was born on November 6, 1903 in Berlin, Germany; Louis Zukofsky was born on January 23, 1904 in New York City; and George Oppen was born on April 24, 1908 in New Rochelle, New York. Not surprisingly, considering his seniority relative to the rest of the group, Williams was also the first of the “Objectivists” to die, in 1963, just as his fellow “Objectivists” were beginning to resurface on the American literary scene.24William Carlos Williams died March 4, 1963, aged 79; Lorine Niedecker died December 31, 1970, aged 67; Charles Reznikoff died January 22, 1976, aged 81; Louis Zukofsky died May 12, 1978, aged 74; George Oppen died July 7, 1984, aged 76; Basil Bunting died April 17, 1985, aged 85; Carl Rakosi died June 25, 2004, aged 100. For comparison, Ezra Pound was born on October 30, 1885 in Hailey, Idaho and died on November 1, 1972 in Venice, Italy, aged 87. Rakosi, the last surviving member of the group, published his final volume of poetry in 1999 and continued to publish new work in magazines until shortly before his death in 2004.

Who Were the “Objectivists”?

How did these seven writers come to know each other? What were the particular threads of connection which united them? How and why were these links forged, maintained, and, in some cases, dissolved?

The Shadow of Ezra Pound

As the inventor of the term “Objectivist” and editor of both the issue of Poetry which launched the group and the “Objectivists” anthology which followed it the next year, Louis Zukofsky was the group’s central figure, and was responsible, more than any other person, for the selection and presentation of the writers who would come to be known as “Objectivists.” However, while Zukofsky first presented the “Objectivists” publicly as a group in the February 1931 issue of Poetry magazine, the roots these writers’ various connections with each other stretched as far back as 1927-1928 and were nearly all entangled in some way with the sprawling, colonizing (though frequently generous) ambitions of the Rapallo-based Ezra Pound. While less immediately visible than Zukofsky, the role played by Ezra Pound behind the scenes was crucially significant in both providing the impetus for Zukofsky’s efforts to assemble and perpetuate this group as well as providing the platform for the invention of a “movement” in the first place. As Tom Sharp has meticulously documented, the ‘Objectivists’ 1931 issue of Poetry might be more properly considered the mid-point rather than the beginning of the group’s affiliation, marking a public unveiling more than anything else.25Sharp’s previously unpublished dissertation, which contains a wealth of very well documented research on the extant correspondence between members of the “Objectivist” nexus in the late 1920s and early 1930s, is now available online: http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/index.html. See Chapters 1, 9, and 11 especially.

Ezra Pound was important not only as a poetic predecessor and influence for many of these writers, as will be discussed later, but as a publisher, erstwhile impresario, and facilitator. His short-lived magazine The Exile (four issues appeared in 1927 and 1928) might even be considered something of a proto-“Objectivist” publication,26Tom Sharp has argued that as the magazine was the group’s “first public meeting place” it placed the “Objectivists” firmly within that “tradition in poetry for which Pound was the principal spokesman” and “expresses many of the principles, especially about the importance of group activity, that Pound continued to impress upon them” (http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/01.history.html) as it featured work by Zukofsky,27His first major publication, “Poem Beginning ‘The'” appeared in The Exile 3, and the fourth and final issue of The Exile included another dozen or so pages from Zukofsky. Williams,28Williams’ “The Descent of Winter,” which Zukofsky had been instrumental in editing, was published in The Exile 4. Williams wrote to Pound on May 17, 1928: “Your spy Zukofsky has been going over my secret notes for you. At first I resented his wanting to penetrate- now listen! – but finally I sez to him, All right, go ahead. So he took my pile of stuff into the city and he works at it with remarkably clean and steady fingers (to your long distance credit be it said) and he ups and choses a batch of writin that yous is erbout ter git perty damn quick if it hits a quick ship – when it gets ready – which it aren’t quite yit. What I have to send you will be in the form of a journal, each bit as perfect in itself as may be. I am however leaving everything just as selected by Zukofsky. It may be later that I shall use the stuff differently.” (Pound/Williams, 82) Zukofsky and Wiliams had first met in April of that year, which means that Williams had known Zukofsky for less than 2 months at the time that he sent Pound this remarkable indication his editorial trust. Rakosi,29Pound published four poems by Rakosi in The Exile 2 and his poem “Extracts from A Private Life” in The Exile 4 McAlmon,30The Exile 2 included McAlmon’s short story “Truer than Most Accounts” and an essay of his on Gertrude Stein was included in The Exile 4 and Howard Weeks,31His poem “Stunt Piece” was published in The Exile 3 each of whom Zukofsky would include in the “Objectivist” issue of Poetry magazine.

In addition to publishing many of the writers who would later go on to appear as “Objectivists,” Pound was also instrumental in introducing Zukofsky to other members of the group. Pound and Williams had been classmates at Penn (along with H.D.), of course,32Pound and Williams met as undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1902, and became friends during the year they were both enrolled there. In 1903, Pound transferred to Hamilton College, but continued to see Williams during school breaks when he returned to his parents’ home in Wyncote, a Philadelphia suburb. In 1905, Pound returned to Penn to begin work on his master’s degree, and they resumed their friendship in earnest. Williams left Philadelphia in 1906 for a medical internship in New York City, and Pound took his ill-fated job teaching foreign languages at Wabash College in a small Indiana town in 1907 (he was fired in the spring of 1908 and left for Europe shortly thereafter). Though no letters from Williams to Pound written prior to 1921 have survived, they corresponded regularly for the next several decades, and a significant portion of their extant correspondence can be found in Hugh Witemeyer’s Pound/Williams: The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and Williams Carlos Williams, published by New Directions in 1996. The early years of their friendship are briefly summarized on pages 3-5 of that book. and it was Pound who first put Zukofsky into contact with Williams,33Pound recommended that Zukofsky look up Williams in a letter dated March 5, 1928. Zukofsky did so almost immediately–the two writers first met in a NY restaurant April 1, 1928, where Zukofsky asked Williams to read his work, and volunteered his own services as an editor of Williams’ unpublished manuscripts. Both liked each other immediately and each quickly sent back to Pound separate reports on their budding friendship. Bunting,34Bunting wrote Zukofsky a postcard two days after his marriage to Marian Culver on Long Island that read, simply: “Dear Mr Zukofsky – Ezra Pound says I ought to look you up. May I?” Zukofsky assented, the two men quickly became friends, and would carry on a lengthy correspondence over the subsequent decades. See The Poem of a Life, pp. 73-74 and A Strong Song Tows Us, pp. 162-168 for more detailed accounts of the origin of Bunting and Zukofsky’s friendship. whom William Butler Yeats had famously described as “one of Ezra’s more savage disciples,”35The Letters of W.B. Yeats, ed. Allan Wade (MacMillan, New York, 1954), 759. and Rakosi.36Pound first mentions Carl Rakosi in a letter to Zukofsky dated 25 October 1930 filled with advice about assembling his guest edited issue of Poetry, indicating that he “may be dead, I wish I cd. trace him” and passing along his last known address in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Pound/Zukofsky, 51). While it was Zukofsky who ‘discovered’ and introduced Reznikoff,37Pound praises some “Reznikof prose” that Zukofsky had sent him as being “very good” in a letter dated December 9, 1929 and in January 1930, Zukofsky informs Pound of an upcoming meeting with Reznikoff in which he intends to “talk business” regarding plans to use Reznikoff’s printing press to publish and circulate a wider range of work. Their surviving letters from 1930 make several additional references to Reznikoff and Zukofsky’s “sincerity and objectification” essay on Reznikoff’s work in particular. Oppen,38Zukofsky made reference to his having sent Pound several unpublished Oppen poems in a letter dated June 18, 1930. This manuscript was recently been found in the Pound papers held at Yale by the scholar David Hobbs and published by New Directions as 21 Poems. See pp. 26-44 of Pound/Zukofsky for the letters Pound and Zukofsky exchanged during the period in question. and Niedecker,39Niedecker is first mentioned in the Pound/Zukofsky correspondence in February 1935, when Zukofsky writes “Glad you agreed with me as to the value of Lorine Niedecker’s work and are printing it in Westminster,” a reference to the Spring-Summer 1935 issue of Bozart-Westminster, which Pound edited with John Drummond and T.C. Wilson and which featured several poems and a dramatic scenario by Niedecker (161). Pound’s response was nasty–this was a particularly strained time in their relationship, largely exacerbated by political differences over fascism and economic theory. to Pound, the story of the Oppens meeting Zukofsky hinges upon George’s chance discovery of Exile 3 (which featured Zukofsky’s “Poem Beginning ‘The'”) while browsing the poetry section at the Gotham Book Mart shortly after his and Mary’s arrival in New York City in the late 1920s.40Mary Wright, the wife of designer Russel Wright, introduced the Oppens to Louis Zukofsky at a party sometime in 1928. See Mary Oppen’s account of their meeting in Meaning a Life, 84-85. [need to include more details on Pound’s role in urging the formation of a ‘group,’ Monroe giving LZ guest editorship of Poetry, and subsequent LZ publication efforts/schemes.

The core of the initial group consisted of Zukofsky, Williams, Reznikoff, and the Oppens, all of whom knew each other by the end of 1928, with various members of this group meeting somewhat regularly in or near New York City over the next half dozen years.41Zukofsky spent the 1930-1931 academic year teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Oppens lived in California and France for significant periods in the early 1930s, but apart from these exceptions, this core group all lived within 20 miles of each other in the New York metro area from 1928 through 1935. Bunting lived in New York for several months in 1930 and 1931, during which time he established friendships Williams and Zukofsky, and he corresponded with Williams for the next few years and with Zukofsky for the next several decades.42Bunting and his first wife, Marian Culver, were married on Long Island on July 9, 1930 and lived in Brooklyn Heights from July 1930-January 1931, when Bunting’s six-month visa expired and the couple returned to Rapallo, Italy. Williams references having supper with the Buntings and Robert McAlmon in a January 15, 1931 letter included in The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 77. A finding list of all extant correspondence between Zukofsky, Pound, Eliot, and Williams has been compiled by Barry Ahearn and can be found at http://www2.tulane.edu/liberal-arts/english/ahearn/zukofsky_search_form.cfm The Oppens, who were not in New York City while Bunting was living there, did however meet both Ezra Pound and the Buntings during their visit to Rapallo in 1932(?), and met again with Pound in Paris shortly before they returned to the United States early in 1933.43The Oppens had financed the publication by TO, Publishers of a book consisting of two of Pound’s prose works. They met with Pound in a Parisian café to inform him that they could not carry on their publishing efforts for financial reasons and that they would not print his ABC of Economics, as he had hoped. For Mary Oppen’s later account of their relationship with Pound and Bunting during this time, see her Meaning a Life, pp. 131-137. Rakosi was initially connected with the group solely through correspondence with Zukofsky, as he was living in Texas during the early 1930s and did not move back to New York City until 1935, by which time the Oppens and Zukofsky had broken their friendship and the Objectivist Press had essentially ceased operating as a collective publishing venture. While Rakosi and Zukofsky enjoyed rich social relations between 1935 and 1940, when both men lived in New York City, Rakosi was already drifting away from poetry and towards a long professional career as a social worker.44Rakosi stopped reading and writing verse entirely towards the end of his time in New York City. Rakosi, who had changed his name to Callman Rawley for professional reasons, earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and married Leah Jaffe in the spring of 1939. Following what he described as “a dreadful existential state, something grey and purposeless between living and dying, and so physical that for a while I was sure I was going to die” that came on when he realized that he was going to stop writing poetry, Rakosi took a job in Saint Louis in 1940 and “went on with my life as a social worker and therapist” (Autobiography in Contemporary Autobiography series, 208). For more on this period in Rakosi’s life, see http://theobjectivists.org/the-lives/carl-rakosi/. Niedecker began corresponding with Zukofsky shortly after reading the “Objectivists” issue of Poetry in her local library, and she first travelled to New York City late in 1933. Although Niedecker met Charles Reznikoffs, the Oppens, and (probably) Williams during the few months she lived with Zukofsky, she did not meet Rakosi or Bunting in person until the late 1960s,45Carl Rakosi visited Lorine Niedecker at her home in 1967/8 [details needed]. Though Bunting and Niedecker did not meet in person until June 1967, when Bunting and his daughters visited Niedecker at her Blackhawk Island home, they had known each other through correspondence, and for a short time Bunting had explored the possibility of going into the carp-seining business with Niedecker’s father Henry. Niedecker wrote to Cid Corman on June 15, 1966: “Basil Bunting–yes, I came close to meeting him when he was in this country in the 30’s. Some mention at the time of his going into the fishing business (he had yeoman muscles LZ said and arrived in New York with a sextant) with my father on our lake and river but it was the depression and at that particular time my dad felt it best to ‘lay low’ so far as starting fresh with new equipment was concerned and a new partner – the market had dropped so low for our carp – and I believe BB merely lived a few weeks with Louie without engaging in any business. He’s probably a very fine person and I’ve always enjoyed his poetry” (Faranda, “Between Your House and Mine“: The Letters of Lorine Niedecker to Cid Corman, 1960-1970, 88). and never became close to anyone in the group but Zukofsky and, to a lesser extent near the very end of her life, Bunting.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Louis Zukofsky and Ezra Pound were crucial to the nucleation and coherence of this nexus, but as interest from a new generation of poets, scholars and general readers sought to revive the work of members of this group in the early 1960s, new constellations and allegiances formed. With Williams in failing health (he would die in March 1963), Pound disgraced by his wartime actions and about to enter several years of largely silent exile following his release from a lengthy confinement in St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital,46For more on this period in Pound’s life, see J.J. Wilhelm’s Ezra Pound: The Tragic Years, pp. 336-357, especially and Zukofsky generally unwilling to participate in group events with other members of the group (especially George Oppen) and increasingly annoyed by their decades-earlier association, literary historians, scholars, and other critics and readers began to form their own working definitions of the “Objectivist” movement, and occasionally of “objectivism” (or “objectism,” as Charles Olson had memorably designated it in his influential “Projective Verse” manifesto, published in 1950) as a historical movement in twentieth-century American poetry. As with any acts of canon formation, anthologizing, and literary-historical movement building, there were simplifications, errors, and partisan exaggerations, though distortions and mythologizing have been exceptionally pronounced in the discussion of and construction of the “Objectivist” legacy. [reasons why: Zuk’s nonparticipation, Oppen’s long silence, the distance between 30s activity and 60s reemergence, the paucity of the historical record, their leftist political commitments and the desire of 60s-era inheritors to recast them as CP ‘heroes’, the variability of memory/experience among the several participants, etc.]

While I am obviously not immune to any of the forces that produce these biases and contortions, I have sought to rely on primary sources and original documentary material wherever possible, and have attempted to act in fidelity with Reznikoff’s characterization of the Objectivist attitude toward judgment and testimony: “By the term ‘objectivist’ I suppose a writer may be meant who does not write directly about his feelings but about what he sees and hears; who is restricted almost to the testimony of a witness in a court of law; and who expresses his feelings indirectly by the selection of his subject-matter.”47Interview with Dembo, CL, 194. In the interview, Reznikoff would go on to extend the analogy more explicitly to the judicial context: “Now suppose in a court of law, you are testifying in a negligence case. You cannot get up on the stand and say, “The man was negligent.” That’s a conclusion of fact. What you’d be compelled to say is how the man acted. Did he stop before he crossed the street? Did he look? The judges of whether he is negligent or not are the jury in that case and the judges of what you say as a poet are the readers. That is, there is an analogy between testimony in the courts and the testimony of a poet,” 195.

“Objectivist” Origins

In gathering this heterogenous group of writers under the rubric of the “Objectivists,” I have taken care not to fall prey to reductive simplifications or mythologizing, either in the backward projection of some intention that did not exist at the particular historical moment that gave rise to the Zukofsky-led ‘movement’ or in the presumption of a monolithic poetics. These was never, for example, an “Objectivist” manifesto or other corporate statement of either poetics or ambition, despite several obvious opportunities to produce and present one, and Zukofsky alone was responsible for all of the early published statements that can reasonably be read as defining and describing the “Objectivists.”48These include his prose statements in the February and April 1931 issues of Poetry magazine as well as his preface to An “Objectivists” Anthology. The absence of a single galvanizing statement of praxis around which the group could have coalesced has contributed to some dispute over the precise meaning of the term and who it ought to apply to, even amongst the members of the group. Carl Rakosi, for instance, would later assert that he regarded Lorine Niedecker as the purest example of an “Objectivist”49He told Kimberly Bird: “Niedecker, by the way, was not a part of it at this time. I think I was the one really who first called her an Objectivist, because I thought that she was the most Objectivist of us all, and she is.” and expressed his view that: “No one name would have fit us all. By restricting the meaning of Objectivist to a poet’s process, however, Zukofsky was able to get around the difficulty and not exclude himself, for the things he pointed out in Reznikoff which were Objectivist did not describe his own work. No, if Reznikoff was an Objectivist, Zukofsky was not.”50Interview with George Evans and August Kleinzahler in Conjunctions, 221. It should be noted that Rakosi was not present in New York City in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and thus only had contact with Zukofsky via letters. Consequently, some of his recollections about the initial character of the group are less accurate than those made by participants in the early meetings. Such bickering about group identities, however, is not uncommon, particularly among poets.51See Kenneth Rexroth’s famously dismissive (and possibly apocryphal) riposte to a Time magazine article designating him the “father of the ‘Beats'”: “An entomologist is not a bug” (qtd. in the introduction to Rexroth: Complete Poems, eds. Sam Hamill and Bradford Morrow, xxvi). And while Zukofsky himself would repeatedly claim that he had never intended to describe anything like a movement, that there had never been such a thing as “Objectivism” and that “the objectivist, then, is one person, not a group,”52Interview with Dembo, 205 the preponderance of evidence suggests that the “Objectivists” were in fact a coherent group, both in terms of several shared affinities and in their corporate efforts to publish each others’ work through the early 1930s.

For these reasons, I maintain that despite their considerable differences, these seven writers retained enough in common, even in their late work, for us to plausibly read and fruitfully consider them together as a loosely allied group: the “Objectivists.” Despite his principled insistence on being read as a particular who takes care in his works for other particulars, taking Zukofsky’s later protestations too literally would be doing a disservice to the historical record. In this, I concur with Tom Sharp, who has argued that “agreement on fundamental principles need not (and did not) imply surrender of individual character or practice. Zukofsky’s statement that he was never a member of the group of “Objectivists”—in the light of such fundamentals—could only be credited to misunderstanding and personal differences. If we regard the grounds upon which they agreed … we are justified … in regarding the Objectivists as a group.”53http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/01.history.html

Early “Objectivist” Publications

As noted previously, the “Objectivists” were publicly assembled and presented for the first time in Zukofsky’s guest-edited issue of Poetry magazine, published in February 1931.54Pound’s role in setting this up–his four long advice letters on 24, 25 and 28 October to Zukofsky after getting word from Monroe that she’d give him an issue to edit (Pound/Zukofsky, 45-59) Most of the writers Zukofsky included in the “Objectivists” issue were Americans, though he did include work by Emanuel Carnevali (born in Italy), Carl Rakosi (born in Hungary), Basil Bunting (born in England), and an essay by René Taupin on the work of André Salmon, which included several examples of Salmon’s poems translated from their original French.55Pound had hoped that Zukofsky’s issue might be an ‘American’ issue, and he hoped to persuade Monroe to follow it up by allowing Basil Bunting to edit an ‘English’ issue, and René Taupin to edit a ‘French’ issue. While Monroe never again gave full editorial control of an entire issue of Poetry to anyone Pound had recommended, Bunting was involved in the selection of the poetry included in the ‘English Number,’ published in February 1932, exactly one year after the “Objectivists” issue. The ‘English Number’ included both Bunting’s satirical poem “Fearful Symmetry” as well as his savage review article entitled “English Poetry Today,” which opened by stating: “There is no poetry in England, none with any relation to the life of the country, or of any considerable section of it” and proceeded to insult nearly everything upon which Bunting settled his attention (264). The presentation of the “Objectivists” as a “group” was a contrivance made to satisfy Monroe’s expectations of a “new group” and to fulfill various promises made vicariously by Ezra Pound, and as such it was fairly thinly veiled.56For example, Reznikoff wrote his friends Al and Mildred Lewin in February 1931: “There is a learned article about my verse in Poetry for this month from which I learn that I am “an objectivist” (Selected Letters of Charles Reznikoff, 156). Even allowing for the possibility of wry self-deprecation, which would have been characteristic of Reznikoff, this can hardly be construed as evidence that the various writers presented in Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry consciously thought of themselves as members of a new group. Carl Rakosi, who was even further removed from the planning and conversations between Zukofsky, Williams,Reznikoff, and the Oppens in New York City, would later recall: “[I]n a sense Zukofsky foiled Harriet Monroe, was thumbing his nose at her: he never did define Objectivist as something with its own special properties and character, and he never meant to. He just wanted to get by. … When Zukofsky first wrote to sound out my reaction to the term Objectivist, I was going my own way and was not connected to anybody and wrote back that it was all right. I couldn’t say it wasn’t. To be objective was one of my goals. But whatever he worked out with her would be all right with me. I just wanted to be in the magazine, and when it appeared there I was, displayed in a showcase as a member of a new movement, suddenly important, bigger than life, discovered. I couldn’t help feeling wildly elated, at the same time thinking: Objectivist? Who, me? Why not? Maybe. What a cockamamie definition, however. But at the time I attached no significance to the thing. Nor did the others. I didn’t think anyone else would attach significance to it either.” (Interview with Evans and Kleinzahler, 222)

Even if the production of a group of “Objectivists” was a fiction, it was a fiction that Zukofsky and others made efforts to perpetuate for some time after the appearance of the February 1931 issue of Poetry.57Confused but curious readers wrote to Monroe and Poetry magazine almost immediately for clarification, and Zukofsky’s testy replies didn’t seem to help much. In the correspondence section of the April 1931 issue of Poetry, Harriet Monroe edited a clutch of reader letters inquiring about Zukofsky’s issue. Stanley Burnshaw asked explicitly: “Is Objectivist poetry a programmed movement (such as the Imagists instituted), or is it a rationalization undertaken by writers of similar subjective predilections and tendencies[?] … Is there a copy of the program of the Objectivist group available?” (53).  In his reply to some of Burnshaw’s other questions Zukofsky emphasized the fundamental individuality of the serious writer: “Interpretation differs between individuals and sometimes there are schools of poetry; i.e., there is agreement among individuals. But linguistic usage and the context of related words naturally influence an etiquette of interpretation (common to individuals, and, it has been said, “for an age”–though all kinds of people live in an “age”)” before both dodging and dismissing Burnshaw’s question, claiming: “To those interested in programmed movements “Objectivist” poetry will be a “programmed movement.” The editor was not a pivot, the contributors did not rationalize about him together; out of appreciation for their sincerity of craft and occasional objectification he wrote the program of the February issue of Poetry” and brusquely recommending Burnshaw reread the other prose statements in the issue (56). The following year, TO, Publishers (a publishing venture founded by Zukofsky, who was employed as the managing editor and the Oppens, who funded it and supervised the production of the books) published An “Objectivists” Anthology, edited by Zukofsky, and several core members of the group formed a publishing collective which they called The Objectivist Press. [Zukofsky attempting to straddle a line …]

On “Objectivists” rather than “Objectivism”

Why ‘Objectivists’ instead of objectivism? In the first place, because this was the usage that its adherents, Zukofsky especially, preferred. [start with replies to the issue in April 1931] By the Spring of 1934, with TO, Publishers having folded and its successor, The Objectivist Press, on the verge of failing without his own 55 Poems manuscript having been printed, Zukofsky published a disavowal in the form of his contributor’s note to a lengthy installment from his The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire published in Westminster Magazine: “Mr. Zukofsky has used the word objectivist but never Objectivism in connection with the work of certain poets. He disclaims leadership of any movement putatively literary or objectionist. The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire is intended to dispel such dispensations.”58Westminster Magazine 23, no. 1 (Spring 1934), “Notes on Contributors”, 6. This was the second of two installments of the work published in Westminster Magazine. The first, published in the Winter 1933 issue, had included the following as its contributor’s note: “MR ZUKOFSKY is the leader of Objectivism in America; his work has appeared in the better American and European magazines.”  Decades later, Zukofsky’s 1968 interview with L.S. Dembo would get off to a rocky start seemingly because Dembo began it by asking about ‘objectivism’ as a movement. Zukofsky’s icy reply was both precise and dismissive: “In the first place, objectivism . . . I never used the word; I used the word “objectivist,” and the only reason for using it was Harriet Monroe’s insistence when I edited the “objectivist” number of Poetry. 59Dembo interview, x, 2. 

In large part, this preference for ‘ists’ instead of an ‘ism’ is a function of both the poetics and the epistemology that defined the several poets included under this umbrella. As a group, these poets shared a mutual suspicion of (or at times hostility towards) abstraction, with an avowed preference for particulars.60Nearly all of the writers in Zukofsky’s circle would have heartily approved of most of the advice dispensed in the ‘Language’ section of Pound’s “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste”, including his counsel: “Don’t use such an expression as “dim lands of peace.” It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol. Go in fear of abstractions.” It follows, then, that they would have preferred to think of themselves in a similar vein, a collection of discrete particulars, as distinct practitioners of a particular craft, namely, the art of poetry. While they might in a certain light be regarded as the makers of objects which shared certain formal and physical properties, it is not difficult to understand why Zukofsky bristled at their being regarded as interchangeable representatives of something so flattening as a movement. Thus a poet or a poem might be accurately regarded as “objectivist,” though it would be inaccurate to speak of “objectivism,” as their animating ideas were never fully developed, embraced, or adhered to. Crucially, this preference of usage is not confined to Zukofsky, but was generally shared by the other so-called ‘Objectivists,’ and there was a general and widespread reluctance among these writers, even in interviews conducted through the 1960s and 1970s, to either encourage or identify with any suggestion of ‘objectivism.'61While not everyone involved in the group was as unfailingly precise in their usage [e.g. Williams, Rezi], most other members of the group were similarly scrupulous in their distinction between -ist and -ism.[examples from Oppen & Rakosi] 

Furthermore, there was no collaboratively-authored or even mutually subscribed to ‘manifesto,’ despite several opportunities to produce one, and both the name of the group itself and all of the critical statements produced in their early publications were fictions singly invented by Zukofsky. The historical record, in other words, preserves little to no effort to produce a collaborative statement of unique poetic values or critical aims. Consider the statement of purpose eventually included on Objectivist Press publications and attributed to Reznikoff: ‘The Objectivist Press is an organization of poets who are printing their own work and that of others they think ought to be printed.” This might in fact be accurately spoken of as the only truly collaborative “Objectivist” statement of intention, and it is simultaneously both rigorous in its accuracy and remarkable for its seemingly deliberate evasion of all poetic ideology.

These were decidedly un-“clubbable” poets, to say the least, and as their complex relationship to the social and political organizations which characterized the political left during their lifetimes made clear, nearly all of them struggled to subsume their individual convictions within any larger group affiliations, even those they felt socially or politically necessary.62Zukofsky, while an intellectually committed Marxist, never formally joined the Communist Party, for example, and while both Rakosi and the Oppens did, neither lasted long as members, nor did either of them feel comfortable mixing their political activism and poetic activity.Both George Oppen and Carl Rakosi, they too strongly valued their poetic independence to surrender their voices to party propaganda. A similar ambivalence and outright antipathy towards political parties and large organizations more generally can be clearly seen in both Lorine Niedecker and Basil Bunting’s work. Reznikoff’s case is likewise interesting–as the author of Holocaust and Testimony, he remains one of the 20th century’s most important documentary poets, and was married for much of his adult life to Marie Syrkin, who, as the daughter of Socialist Zionist theorist Nachman Syrkin, was herself the close friend and biographer of Golda Meir and the longtime editor of Jewish Frontier, the leading Labor Zionist publication in the English-speaking world, though he himself remained more or less unaffiliated with any explicitly partisan causes.

This is not to say that members of the group did not share a set of political ideals, literary values or critical aims, simply that they made no concerted effort to broadcast a shared viewpoint, or even to clarify their particular interpretation of a Poundian-inspired poetics. This is why Zukofsky, generally precise even at his prickliest and most revisionist, could claim in speaking with L.S. Dembo in 1968 that when Harriet Monroe informed him that “‘You must have a movement.’ I said, “No, some of us are writing to say things simply so that they will affect us as new again.” “Well, give it a name.” Well, there were pre-Raphaelitism, and dadaism, and expressionism, and futurism-I don’t like any of those isms. I mean, as soon as you do that, you start becoming a balloon instead of a person. And it swells and a lot of mad people go chasing it.”63(203) The implicit criticism here, of course, is that Dembo and those of us who would insist on examining or exploring ‘objectivism’ as a movement are faddish and insane. Well, then!

So, if it is inaccurate to speak of ‘objectivism,’ does this mean that there was not a group or that a contemporary sense of a poetic movement is a fiction invented ex post facto by sloppy would-be critic-historians? My answer to this is no, or at least not entirely. Without producing a balloon founded on false assumptions (i.e. “objectivism” as a historically durable, intentionally programmed poetic movement), there are at least two senses in which we can accurately speak of the ‘Objectivists’ as a meaningful constellation of writers with some shared affinities and overlapping poetics.

First and most fundamentally, each of the “Objectivist” writers would have assented to many of basic principles of poetic composition set forth by Ezra Pound over the previous two decades. All were familiar with Pound’s “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste” and F.S. Flint’s “Imagisme,” both published in the March 1913 issue of Poetry magazine,64Pound and Flint’s essays can be read online at the Poetry Foundation’s webiste here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=58900 and here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=58898. and each was broadly committed to the basic principles articulated in those brief prose statements.65F.S. Flint on the imagistes: “They had not published a manifesto. They were not a revolutionary school; their only endeavor was to write in accordance with the best tradition, as they found it in the best writers of all time,–in Sappho, Catullus, Villon. … They had only a few rules, drawn up for their satisfaction only … They were: 1. Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective. 2. To use absolutely no word that did not contribute to the presentation. 3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.” (199). Taken alone, it’s possible to read Flint’s description of the imagistes here as fully applicable to Zukofsky’s “Objectivists” as well. While it would be overly simplistic to argue, as some have done, that the “Objectivists” were simply purifiers and renewers of Pound’s original Imagiste movement, it is more or less true that Pound was a largely invisible junction through which the group organized itself, and his poetic ideas and principles cast a large, if sometimes unacknowledged, shadow over Zukofsky and the group he assembled for Poetry magazine and the subsequent “Objectivists” anthology.66In a December 7, 1931 letter to Ezra Pound, Zukofsky referred to his in-process long poem “A” as “following out of your don’ts almost to the letter” (Pound/Zukofsky, 110-111). In his 1969 interview with L.S. Dembo, Charles Reznikoff recalled: “When I was twenty-one [c. 1915], I was particularly impressed by the new kind of poetry being written by Ezra Pound, H. D., and others, with sources in French free verse. It seemed to me just right, not cut to patterns, however cleverly, nor poured into ready molds–that sounds like an echo of Pound–but words and phrases flowing as the thought; to be read just like common speech–that sounds like Whitman–but for stopping at the end of each line: and this like a rest in music or a turn in the dance” (194). When asked about his recollections of his conversations with Oppen and Zukofsky regarding ‘objectivist technique’ Reznikoff told Dembo: “Well, I hate to take any aura from our talks as I remember them, if they have any to begin with, but we talked about something quite practical. We couldn’t get our poetry accepted by regular publishers, so we thought it would be nice if we organized our own publishing firm, with each of us paying for the printing of his own book. We picked the name “Objectivist” because we had all read Poetry of Chicago and we agreed completely with all that Pound was saying. We didn’t really discuss the term itself; it seemed all right-pregnant. It could have meant any number of things. But the mere fact that we didn’t discuss its meaning doesn’t deprive it of its validity. … I think we all agreed that the term “objectivism,” as we understood Pound’s use of it, corresponded to the way we felt poetry should be written. And that included Williams, too. What we were reacting from was Tennyson. We were anti-Tennysonian. His kind of poetry didn’t represent the world we knew-the streets of New York or of East Rutherford or Paterson. It might have represented the idyllic countryside where Tennyson lived, I don’t doubt, or the world in which Swinburne lived–that semi-classical world. We recognized its validity; I’m sure we all felt how good were things like “the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces” or the beginning of “The Lotos-Eaters.” Some of it was magnificent, but it wasn’t us.” (196-197). Rakosi, who was corresponding with Zukofsky from Texas while other members of the group were regularly meeting in New York City in the early 1930s, would later express decidedly more negative views of what he considered to be Pound’s personal grandiosity and the epic tone he adopted in the Cantos, but nonetheless prefaced his criticism in his 1969 interview with Dembo by stating “I had better admit that I believe that Pound’s critical writing–particularly the famous “Don’ts” essay–is an absolute foundation stone of contemporary American writing” (180). Similarly, though Pound and the Oppens diverged on a number of very important points, Mary Oppen recalled in a November 1976 conversation with Serge Fauchereau that “We understood the importance of Pound, and to us he was a tremendous figure” (Speaking with George Oppen, 132).

Second, and most indisputably, there was a cluster of collaboratively undertaken publishing ventures in the late 1920s and early 1930s which were chiefly animated by roughly half a dozen poets. It is in this sense that I use the term “Objectivists” here, and largely by this criteria that I have selected the poets treated on these pages. Though Zukofsky may have felt he had sufficiently disavowed his leadership of any such movement with his authorial statement in Westminster Magazine, the fact remains that he had already at that point used the “Objectivist” title to designate not only the issue of Poetry magazine he had edited and a subsequent anthology, but he had also served as the editor of one publishing venture (TO, Publishers) which could be plausibly read as an acronym for The Objectivists, and been instrumental in organizing another collaborative publishing venture called The Objectivist Press. Futhermore, while The Objectivist Press did not bring out any of Zukofsky’s work while it was a functioning collective in the mid-1930s, the Zukofskys revived the press (in name at least) as late as 1948 to serve as the imprimatur for Louis’ The Test of Poetry. Yes, the “Objectivists” may well have been a contrivance invented largely for PR or publicity-related reasons, but the fact remains that it was not an external artifice completely thrust upon the group; rather, Zukofsky himself had chosen the terminology and group’s name and further chose to perpetuate and seek to capitalize on the name for several years after their first appearance. 

As Tom Sharp has shown, the aggregation of many of these writers was first accomplished by Ezra Pound through his short-lived but influential magazine The Exile, which published work by Bunting, Zukofsky, Rakosi, and Williams. At Pound’s urging, Zukofsky was given editorial power over a single issue of Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine in early 1931, and however awkwardly or unwillingly, used the issue to present ‘Objectivists’ 1931. The issue’s chief critical statements were authored by Zukofsky singly, but the issue contained work by 23 individual contributors,67Joyce Hopkins, listed as the author of the one-line poem “University: Old-Time,” was an invented name used for Zukofsky’s poetic refashioning of a letter from his friend Roger Kaigh and shortly after its appearance, Zukofsky began work in earnest selecting and editing a larger collection of work which he hoped that Samuel Putnam, the publisher of the New Review, would publish as an “Objectivist” anthology. Zukofsky finished the anthology in October 1931, but unfortunately for Zukofsky, he had not received a firm commitment regarding publication from Putnam. As time stretched on without firm plans to publish the anthology, Zukofsky became increasingly anxious that Putnam would ultimately not publish the collection and in February 1932, Zukofsky’s worst fears were confirmed when he received Putnam’s rejection.68Zukofsky wrote to Pound on 15 March 1932 chastising himself for sacrificing his money, time, and energy without a serious promise of publication, and announced that ‘he would no longer submit work unsolicited or without pay, especially for editors like Putnam,’ though there would be several more cruel lessons for Zukofsky to learn about the poetry and publishing “biz” in the years to come. “On 15 March 1932, Zukofsky, thinking of having To publish An “Objectivists” Anthology, asked Pound to exert his influence. The Oppens agreed.69Letters from Zuk to Pound March 15 and April 20 Notes from Tom Sharp70Even though Bruce Humphries of Boston had taken over their distribution, by July the Oppens’ financial burden had become excessive. Pound wrote to Zukofsky: “With O’s capital attacked (as he has prob. writ. you) the question of cooperation ??? etc. Also grave question of how it affects yr/ salary.”43 Zukofsky wrote on 8 August 1932, disappointed and apologetic, that Oppen could neither continue To Publishers nor his salary.44 Oppen had paid him $100 each month from November 1931, but after this it was reduced to $50 and ended altogether in October.45 The Oppens published the anthology in August 1932, this time, perhaps because they had already left Var, using a printer in Dijon, and Pound reviewed it in the Chicago Tribune (Paris) on 2 September 1932.46

Edited by Zukofsky, this anthology contained work by 14 poets [The number swells to 15 if you count Jerry Raisman’s contribution to a collaboration with Zukofsky. The 14: Louis Zukofsky, Basil Bunting, Mary Butts, Frances Fletcher, Robert McAlmon, George Oppen, Ezra Pound, Carl Rakosi, Kenneth Rexroth, Charles Reznikoff, William Carlos Williams, Forrest Anderson, T.S. Eliot, and R.B.N Warriston], 8 of whom [Bunting, Rakosi, Oppen, Zukofsky, Williams, Renzikoff, McAlmon, and Rexroth] had also work featured in the Poetry issue from the previous year. TO, Publishers was nothing if not an ‘Objectivist’ publishing venture: funded and operated from France by the Oppens, it employed Zukofsky as the managing editor, and in addition to An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology published (or planned to publish) work by Williams, Pound, Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Oppen, Bunting, Rakosi, and Rexroth.[of these planned volumes, the Press would only print work by Williams and Pound before experiencing financial, import, and distribution difficulties which caused the venture to be abandoned in 1933]. 

The Objectivists initial energy dissipated, the various members of the collaborative went their separate ways (as the depression deepened, many turned to political action and affiliation with the Communist Party, abandoning or sidelining their poetry as they were unwilling to make ideologically-driven aesthetic compromises). In 1936, with encouragement from Ezra Pound, the young and wealthy James Laughlin founded what would become the New Directions publishing company, more or less replacing the Oppens and the Objectivist Press as a publishing outlet for Williams and Pound,71Mary Oppen, in Meaning A Life: “Later, at almost the same moment that George and I terminated To Publishers, James Laughlin founded New Directions. Since then he has continued to publish fine books through the many years, and he deserves the credit for carrying the burden of running a business in the interest of publishing poetry.” (131) and the “Objectivists” more or less vanished until their recovery in the early 60s.

In urging Zukofsky and Joseph Vogel to gather a ‘group’ dedicated to literature in the United States during the late 1920s and early 1930s, Ezra Pound had stressed the insignificance of total agreement and the importance of merely finding ten percent upon which the several members might agree.72In fact, Pound began urging Zukofsky to “form a group” to continue the momentum and impulse of his magazine The Exile in his second ever letter to Zukofsky, sent in February 1928: “Also any of your contemporaries with whom you care to associate. Somebody OUGHT to form a group in the U.S. to make use of the damn thing now that I have got in motion. Failing development of some such cluster I shall stop with No. 6. [of The Exile]” Pound/Zukofsky, 6. In his next letter, sent March 5, 1928, Pound urges Zukofsky to introduce himself to William Carlos Williams, and forwards on his address. After receiving reports that Zukofsky and Williams had met and established a literary friendship, Pound’s next letter (dated August 12, 1928) includes several pages of advice and suggestions, including his urging  Zukofsky to “make an effort toward restarting some sort of life in N.Y.; sfar as I know there has been none in this sense since old Stieglitz organized (mainly foreign group) to start art. … I suggest you form some sort of gang to INSIST on interesting stuff (books) (1.) being pubd. promptly, and distributed properly. 2. simultaneous attacks in as many papers as poss. on abuses definitely damaging la vie intellectuelle. … there are now several enlightened members of yr. body impolitic [meaning the United States] that might learn the val. of group action” (11). Acting on Pound’s suggestions, Zukofsky contacted a number of writers Pound had recommended to him, including Joseph [Joe] Vogel, an aspiring young writer who had recently graduated from Pound’s alma mater Hamilton College and, like Pound, had studied Romance languages. Vogel responded to Zukofsky’s overtures by writing directly to Pound, an in a November 21, 1928 letter Pound sent Vogel his beliefs regarding “the science of GROUPS,” and instructed him to share the contents of his letter with Zukofsky. His advice: “at the start you must find the 10% of matters that you agree on and the 10% plus value in each other’s work.” Second, you should not expect a group to remain constant: “Take our groups in London. The group of 1909 had disappeared without the world being much the wiser. Perhaps a first group can only prepare the way for a group that will break through. The one or two determined characters will pass through 1st to 2nd or third groups.” Thirdly, “No use starting to crit. each other at start. Anyhow it requires more crit. faculty to discover the hidden 10% positive, than to fuss about 90% obvious imperfection. You talk about style, and mistrusting lit. socs. etc. Nacherly. Mistrust people who fuss about paint and finish before they consider girders and structure.” Fourth, “You ’all’ presumably want some sort of intelligent life not dependent on cash, and salesmanship. . . . Point of group is precisely to have somewhere to go when you don’t want to be bothered about salesmanship. (Paradox?? No.)” And, finally, “When you get five men who trust each other you are a long way to a start. If your stuff won’t hold the interest of the four or of someone in the four, it may not be ready to print.” (Pound, Letter to Vogel, 21 November 1928, The Selected Letters, pp. 219-221, No. 231. Here Vogel is named “James” instead of “Joseph.) Vogel replied (find this response at Yale?) to which Pound sent a more exasperated outburst on 23 January 1929: “Dear Vogel: Yr. painfully evangelical epistle recd. if you are looking for people who agree with you!!!! How the hell many points of agreement do you suppose there were between Joyce, W. Lewis, Eliot and yrs. truly in 1917; or between Gaudier and Lewis in 1913; or between me and Yeats, etc.?” Pound recommended that if Vogel respected decent writing, writing which expressed a man’s ideas, then he ought to exchange his with others who have “ideas of any kind (not borrowed clichés) that irritate you enough to make you think or take out your own ideas and look at ’em.” (Pound, Letter to Vogel, 23 January 1929, The Selected Letters, p. 222, No. 234.) More on Vogel/Pound correspondence in Paideuma 27:2-3 [Fall/Winter 1998], 197-225. Such a formula, while probably understated in this case, does provide a helpful lens through which to see the early constellations and affinities which characterized the group arrayed by Zukofsky in the two early “Objectivist” publications. What were these points of agreement?

“Objectivist” Principles

Politics

As noted in the introduction, the Objectivist writers were leftist in their politics, particularly during the Depression. Both Oppen and Rakosi formally joined the Communist Party in the mid-1930s. Zukofsky did not, though he unsuccessfully applied for membership in 1925, when his close friend Whittaker Chambers began to ingratiate himself with the party’s New York leadership. Zukofsky was, at least intellectually, sincere in his Marxist orientation and concern for the interests of the proletariat, an attitude which remained prominent in his work and private letters through the late 1930s. Not only does Zukofsky’s poetry reflect his close attention to the writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, Zukofsky spent several months in 1934 and 1935 preparing A Worker’s Anthology (though never published, many of the poems he gathered for this manuscript made their way into his A Test of Poetry), joined the anti-fascist (and Communist-affiliated) League of American Writers in 1935, and worked briefly that same year as an unpaid poetry editor for the prominent Communist-affiliated literary magazine New Masses. Niedecker, Williams, and Reznikoff each had interests in what might be termed progressive or left-wing populist politics, though each was suspicious of ideology and wary of partisan politics.73On Niedecker’s politics, see: http://steelwagstaff.info/lorine-niedecker-and-the-99/ Bunting, for example, not only attended a Quaker school and was imprisoned as a conscientious objector during the first World War, but was, like his father, a dues-paying Fabian Socialist for several years as a young adult. His mature political views, while largely uncategorizable, resemble something of a fusion between socialism and anarchism.

Poetics

[Scroggins? Du Plessis?]

1930s NEXUS:

To draw a network of the Objectivist ‘nexus’ as it existed in the late 20s-early 30s, one might imagine Pound and Williams as something like sibling branches.74A volume of selected Pound-Williams letters containing roughly 30 percent of the extant correspondence was edited by Hugh Witemeyer and published by New Directions in 1996. Under Pound there would be two thick nodes, connecting him as major influence upon both Zukofsky and Basil Bunting. A softer line might be drawn between Pound and both Rakosi and Reznikoff–each of whom admired and appreciated Pound’s prose on poetics and the early Cantos, and to a lesser extent to Oppen, who was much more profoundly influenced by Reznikoff and to a lesser extent, by Williams. A strong line would be drawn of course between Zukofsky and Niedecker, and a thinner, but still significant one between Niedecker and Bunting. As the intellectual, editorial, and in many respects energetic center of the group, Zukofsky would have thick connections drawn between himself and Pound (initially as something like an admiring pupil and ersatz disciple, though their relation would deteriorate over time, showing signs of strain almost immediately following Zukofsky’s return from his trip to visit Pound in Rapallo in 1933), and more of an editorial/younger peer relation between himself and Williams (though they were separated by nearly 20 years in age, Williams came to trust and admire Zukofsky as both a superb editor and a good friend), Bunting, Oppen, Rakosi, and of course, Niedecker. Bunting lived briefly in New York with his wife Marian Culver following their marriage on Long Island in July 1930, and while in New York, Bunting developed friendships with both Williams and Zukofsky before returning to live in Rapallo in February 1931 (the Oppens were in France at this time, and so they did not meet in person until the Oppens visited Rapallo some time in 1932). Williams, Reznikoff, Zukofsky, and the Oppens had their own thickly knotted bundle of connections, as they all met fairly regularly in New York City in the late 1920s and early-mid 1930s. The Oppens both admired Reznikoff enormously, but apart from these connections previously described, there would have been thin to nonexistent connections between any of the other members of the group, even as late as late-autumn of 1933, when Niedecker made her first trip to visit Zukofsky in New York City and met Reznikoff and the Oppens. At the time of the publication of An “Objectivists” Anthology in 1932, for example Niedecker was not yet known to any member of the group apart from Zukofsky, and Rakosi and Bunting would have been the most peripheral members of the group, in no small part because of their geographic distance (Rakosi was teaching high school English and enrolled in medical school in Texas during these years, and apart from roughly six months in New York City in 1930 and early 1931, Bunting spent the years between 1929 and 1936 living at Rapallo and on the Canary Islands).

What such a visualization would immediately make apparent is the way in which the main arteries of the Objectivist nexus traverse not just through Zukofsky, but also through Ezra Pound. It was Pound who served as a locus (through letters) of ideas, encouragement, and not-infrequent provocation for Zukofsky, Bunting, and Williams.75Williams he knew from their days together at Penn, Bunting he knew as a co-dweller at Rapallo, and Zukofsky had written him with admiration for both his prose statements and more importantly, the poetic accomplishments of his early Cantos.

LZ – Williams [via Pound, in person in NYC staring April 1, 1928]

LZ – Bunting [via Pound, Bunting sent Zuk a card upon his arrival in New York in 1930 as a newlywed. They also spent time together in Rapallo during Zukofsky’s trip to Europe in 1933]

LZ – Rakosi [via Pound’s introduction, through letters [starting winter 1930] until 1935, when Rakosi moved to NYC and they were friends who met socially on a regular basis until 1939-1940, when both men married and Rakosi and his wife left NYC for his career.]

LZ – Oppen [met in NYC in 1929]

LZ – Reznikoff [Unclear how they met, probably through the Menorah Journal]

LZ – Niedecker [through letters beginning Sept/Oct 1931, met in person several times, first in late fall 1933, when she lived with him until early 1934. She returned in April 1934 and again in 1935 (when she fell pregnant). Jerry Raisman and LZ visited LN in September 1936. LZ met Celia in January 1934 (while Niedecker was staying with him), they were dating seriously by 1937, and married August 20, 1939 in Wilmington, Delaware, with Niedecker there on the day they married, though not probably at the wedding?]

LZ bio states that LZ knew Rezi somehow prior to meeting WCW. Sent WCW Rezi poems in May 1929, and to EP in November 1929.

Bunting and Pound met by chance in a Parisian cafe in the 20s, Bunting writes letter of introduction (at Pound’s urging) to LZ in July 1930, just before LZ goes to Madison for the academic year. LZ returned to NYC for the holidays just before the Objectivist issue appeared, and had christmas dinner with Bunting’s wife Marian.

LZ introduced Niedecker to Ian Hamilton Finlay, via Gael Turnbull.

LZ: “The objectivist, then, is one person, not a group, and as I define him he is interested in living with the things as they exist, and as a ‘wordsman,’ he is a craftsman who puts words together into an object.”

Pound’s active anthology includes work by Williams, Oppen, Bunting and Pound.

Pound’s strongest links: Williams, Zukofsky, Bunting, and to a lesser extent Rakosi (who he published in Exile) and Oppen & Reznikoff (both of whom Zukofsky championed–and of the two, Oppen was the only one Pound engaged with meaningfully in that period–including him in his Active Anthology and writing the preface to his Discrete Series).

Bunting’s strongest links: with Pound and Zukofsky. Met Williams in NYC in 1930-31, and the Oppens in Rapallo.

Zukofsky’s strongest links: with Pound, Williams, Oppen, Reznikoff, Bunting, Rakosi and Niedecker. The only one to be connected to each other node.

Williams’ strongest links: with Pound and Zukofsky, and via the publishing venture with Reznikoff and Oppen

Oppens’ strongest links: with Zukofsky, Reznikoff, and Williams, followed by Pound [met in Europe before Zukofsky–also met Bunting]. Met LN in NYC in 1933/4 during her visit to NYC.

Reznikoff’s strongest links: ??? participated in the publishing venture with Williams, Zukofsky, and Oppen and admired Pound’s prose statements about poetics

Rakosi’s strongest links: with Zukofsky and to a much lesser extent, with Pound (his time in NYC just straddled the Objectivist heyday–he was there for several months in 1925, and didn’t return until 1935–when he befriended Zukofsky, but the others were disbanding)

Niedecker’s strongest links: with Zukofsky. Met Reznikoff and the Oppens in 1933/34, but while they were friendly, none of them formed a meaningful bond or corresponded at any length. Zukofsky visited with Jerry Reisman in 1937?–proposed Bunting going into business with her father, but nothing came of it.

1940s-50s nexus: Zukofsky and Niedecker. Bunting, Williams, Pound, Zukofsky. No Rakosi, Oppen, Reznikoff connection to speak of.

1960s nexus: Williams dead. Pound (mostly) silent. Zukofsky increasingly alienating/alienated.

Oppen forms the core of phase 3 ‘Objectivists’–through both his attraction to younger writers and access to publication–his sister’s partnership with New Directions.

Oppens’ strongest links: to Reznikoff (debt and respect) and Rakosi (friendship). Lots of other friendships with younger writers, who see Oppens as models for life & art.

Bunting’s strongest links: to Niedecker (mostly through shared affection, though he visits her in Wisconsin with his daughters in mid-60s, the only person besides Zukofsky to go to Wisconsin to see her) + younger English poets and Allen Ginsberg).

Reznikoff’s strongest links: to Oppen, though friendly with Rakosi

Rakosi’s strongest links: to Oppen–he and his wife move to SF after retirement, he writes Old Poet’s Tale about Oppen and his death. Strong outspoken antipathy towards Zukofsky and Pound–is also able to produce documentary evidence challenging Zukofsky and critical reappraisal of early ‘Objectivist’ history, though has imperfect sense of the NYC cluster/friendships, as he wasn’t there for most of the time (his time in NYC just straddled the Objectivist time–he was there for several months in 1925, and didn’t return until 1935–when he befriended Zukofsky, but the others were disbanding)

Niedecker’s strongest links: to Zukofsky and to Bunting.Had fond relations with Bunting, but they didn’t meet in person until 1967. She also met Rakosi around this time, once, and exchanged a couple of letters with both men. Connections with Cid Corman, Jonathan Williams, local friends (like Gail and Bonnie Roub) and several poet/publishers in England also important. 50s connection w/ Edward Dahlberg–strange but significant. 


Zukofsky to Pound, November 6, 1930: “Seems to me I have no group but people who write or at least try to show signs of doing it … The only progress made since 1912–is or are several good poems, i.e. the only progress possible–& criteria are in your prose works. Don’t know (my issue) will have anything to do with homogeneity (damn it) but with examples of good writing.” (65) “Think I’ll have a good a “movement” as that of the premiers imagistes–point is Wm. C. W. of today is not what he was in 1913, neither are you if you’re willing to contribute–if I’m going to show what’s going on today, you’ll have to. The older generation is not the older generation if it’s alive & up–Can’t see why you shd. appear in the H & H alive with 3 Cantos & not show that you are the (younger) generation in “Poetry.” What’s age to do with verbal manifestation, what’s history to do with it … I want to show the poetry that’s being written today–whether the poets are of masturbating age or the fathers of families don’t matter. … Most of the men I choose will not be people who have been in touch with you. Satisfied?” (67)

Zukofsky to Pound, November 9, 1930: “But why “McKenzie believes in” or “Zukspewsky presents”–why not a date or a region or a tendency–Poets, 1931 or The Twelve, or U.S.A. 1931, or 606 and after. Or what do you suggest? Or Objectivists, 1931, or The Third Decade, or The States? Objectivists or the equivalent minus philosophical lingo is what it shd. be, that is the poems will be such as are objects. Or Things.” (69)

Zuk to Pound, February 5, 1931, discussing publication schemes: “as for the bizness of the super book-club: of course, I’m willing to work, and as one of the commissars you can assign me to some sensible duty. I don’t think I’d be good at organizing 300 or 400 or 500 people who will buy at 50¢ or 1 buck etc-i.e. I’m not a salesman-however, maybe your subsequent letters (I am answering your “incomplete statement” of Jan 22) will convince me different.

However-why not begin with your suggestion in Morada 5 and organize a writer’s syndical ((membership rules up to you)) You can get 100 writers to contribute $5-or you can get 50 writers to contribute $5 and 10 to contribute $10 and use that to pay for your first or first two volumes. You can, or should be able to, get free advertising (or credit) from Hound & Horn, Symposium, Blues, Pagany, Morada, Front, The New Review, Criterion, etc. That should give you the 300 or 400 or 500 subscribers you want. There are also the subscription lists (?) of these magazines to circularize.

On Rakosi: “He calls himself Callman Rawley down there and wants no one to know of “Rakosi[“]; teaches school & studying to be a doctor. Maybe I shdn’t give you this information-but if you can handle the case tactfully, & I daresay you can-he might be able to do something.”

Reznikoff-why not write him yourself-if you have a definite project in mind. 225 McClellan St. Bronx New York. He’s been in business and is a lawyer but does not practice the profession. Older than most of us–36 and absolutely honest and dependable–if you can get him started.

Writes with details of TO, Publishing’s plans to bring out EP’s Collected Prose: “our list runs: 1. Bill Walrus [Williams].
2. E.P. Section I.
3. If Oppen agrees-Tozzi/Buntn.
only objection: we may have to pay Tozzi—is he alive?-& we cdn’t afford to pay both Bunting & Tozzi-But you write Oppen & see what he says. No, I don’t think we propose to be purely amurikun. In fact, we expect you to be on look out for foreign material and make suggestions all the time. [Note: In his letter of 27 November 1931, Pound had suggested that Bunting translate Federigo Tozzi’s Tre croci. Pound referred to it as the “only modern wop bk. as good as Dubliners and Portrait of Artist.” Pound may have been unaware that an English translation already existed: Three Crosses (New York: Moffat, Yard, 1921).]

4. Possibly L.Z.
5. Reznikoff. (probably)
6. E.P. (2nd section).

Bob McA[lmon]-cd be taken care of fhe second year. We don’t want the same homocide squad allee time. By that time he shd. be rejected by everyone else & (have) polished off his Politics of Existence which has fine things in it-what I’ve seen-but needs to be cut (& I mean cut). Not just circumcised.

If you wish to cede yr. 2nd place to Bunting & take 3rd-it wd. be alright-but Geo. counts on you, second, as a business asset. Up to you Oppen.” (117)

Pound to Zukofsky, 29 November 1931, “Taupin has filled Basil with firm belief of yr. utter incapacity to transact ANY business operation.” [qtd on 121]

“Mebbe better if you forgot tbe Donts, and every godd damn abstract criterion that ANYone has uttered, and concentrate on yr/ own aesthetic.

There is no REASON why I shd. be able to be any more use to you (as critic) 1930 to 1950 than yeats to me 1910 to 1930.

E un altra cosa; questa

/// at any rate if you are working out a new musical structure, you’ve got to concentrate on it 5 or 10 or 20 years.

Its a whale of a job. I don’t see why it shdnt. lead out. to etc. . . . .

(Wot you posterlate) # is an abstracter kind of poesy than my generation

went in for. Woller TOOT.

If the alternative is [Archibald]McLeishing for KRRists sake go on and do fugues and double cannons (123) and letter puzzles and sequences of pure consonants with no god damn trace of god damn lichercgoor in ’em AT ALL (124)

References   [ + ]

1. Each of these writers were leftist in their politics, with several possessing strong Marxist or socialist sympathies. The poetics of each writer might be described as sympathetically heterogeneous: much of their early work was influenced by Ezra Pound, and owed a great deal to the imagist tradition.
2. Zukofsky’s “Program: “Objectivists” 1931.” can be read on the website of the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=59515
3. This essay, “Sincerity and Objectification: With Special Reference to the Work of Charles Reznikoff,” can be read on the website of the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=59516
4. The full contents of the issue, including a table of contents and full list of contributors, are accessible on the Poetry Foundation’s website:  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/detail/70538.
5. Monroe’s editorial can be read online at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=59518
6. Monroe concluded the correspondence by printing a postcard from Ezra Pound which claimed that “this is a number I can show to my Friends. If you can do another eleven as lively you will put the mag. on its feet,” followed by her own humorous riposte: “Alas, we fear that would put it on its uppers! [teeth]” (58). The full exchange of correspondence published by Monroe in the April 1931 issue can be found online on the Poetry Foundation’s website: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=38&issue=1&page=65.
7. The 14: Louis Zukofsky, Basil Bunting, Mary Butts, Frances Fletcher, Robert McAlmon, George Oppen, Ezra Pound, Carl Rakosi, Kenneth Rexroth, Charles Reznikoff, William Carlos Williams, Forrest Anderson, T.S. Eliot, and R.B.N Warriston (the number swells to 15 if you count Jerry Raisman, who was credited as a collaborator with Zukofsky on a single poem). Of the 14, the following 8 had also been featured in the February 1931 issue of Poetry: Bunting, Rakosi, Oppen, Zukofsky, Williams, Renzikoff, McAlmon, and Rexroth
8. The preface, titled “Recencies in Poetry,” was the text of a talk Zukofsky had given at the Gotham Book Mart in August 1931 to clarify his editorial statements in the February 1931 issue of Poetry.
9. The full table of contents for this anthology can be found at Z-Site: http://www.z-site.net/biblio-research/the-objectivists-and-their-publications/.
10. McAlmon and William Carlos Williams met in New York City in 1920 at a party hosted by Lola Ridge. They quickly became friends and joint publishers of Contact, a cheaply-produced little magazine. McAlmon and Williams published four issues of Contact between December 1920 and the summer of 1921, when McAlmon left for Paris. In June 1923, Williams published a fifth and final issue of Contact with Monroe Wheeler. The initial run of Contact can be read here: (pdf). After moving to Paris in 1921, McAlmon founded the Contact Publishing Company and published important modernist writing under the Contact Editions imprint, including books by his wife Bryher (Annie Ellerman), Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Williams and himself. In 1932, Williams revived Contact, and while McAlmon was listed as an “associate editor” on the masthead and contributed to the magazine, his involvement in the actual editing and publishing of the second run of the magazine was nil. Instead, Williams managed the second run of Contact with the novelist Nathanael West. The impetus (and funding) for the magazine’s revival had been provided by Sally and Martin Kamin and David Moss, ambitious but inexperienced publishers who had revived McAlmon’s Contact Editions imprint the year previous in order to publish West’s novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell in New York City. The second run of Contact consisted of just three issues, all of which were published in 1932 (February, May, and October), and the magazine folded when West left for Hollywood and Williams resigned as an editor. Scans of much of the second run of Contact can be viewed here: (pdf). For more on McAlmon and Williams’ involvement with Contact, see Paul Mariani’s William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked, pp. 174-186 (the first run), and pp. 319-339 (the second run). In the early 30s, Rexroth planned to found a press with his friends Milton Merlin and Joseph Rabinowitch. As they conceived it, the RMR Press (the initial letters of their last names) would publish a series of pamphlets and short books, with a special emphasis on poetry. Zukofsky, Pound, and Williams all wrote to Rexroth in support of the venture, offering selections of their own work for consideration and providing extensive lists of authors they felt might be interested in being included in the series. Zukofsky named Reznikoff, Oppen, Bunting, Rene Taupin, Whittaker Chambers/George Crosby, and Harry Roskolenko; and Pound recommended Rexroth approach Wyndham Lewis, Man Ray, Hilaire Hiler, Robert McAlmon, and Ford Madox Ford. Despite the several recommendations, RMR Press never advanced beyond the planning stage. For more background on RMR, see A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, pp. 65, 75-76.
11. Like Rakosi and Niedecker, both McAlmon and Rexroth were geographically peripheral to the New York group. Zukofsky wrote to Rexroth (then living in San Francisco) in November 1930 from Madison, explaining that he had read some of Rexroth’s poetry in Charles Henri Ford’s little magazine Blues, and soliciting work for the upcoming issue of Poetry he was editing. Though Rexroth appeared in the two earliest “Objectivist” publications, with his work occupying nearly 40 pages(!) of An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology, he and Zukofsky did not meet in person until the summer of 1957, when Zukofsky spent a summer teaching in San Francisco. For those interested to better understand the nature of Rexroth and Zukofsky’s relationship, significant portions of their correspondence have been published. Mark Scroggins presents two long letters from Rexroth to Zukofsky in the early 1930s detailing his philosophical and poetic stances and his disagreements with Zukofsky’s positions in a special Rexroth centenary issue of the Chicago Review in 2006: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25742335, and several long letters from Zukofsky to Rexroth can be found in the edition of Zukofsky’s selected letters edited by Barry Ahearn and published on Z-Site: http://www.z-site.net/selected-letters-of-louis-zukofsky/ (see pp. 46-62; 64-72; 138-144; 186-200). While Rexroth praised Zukofsky as “one of the most important poets of my generation” in his review of Some Time, his relationships with other “Objectivists” were never good. At Zukofsky’s urging, Rexroth and his then wife Andrée met George and Mary Oppen in San Francisco in 1931, but the couples did not get along well and their contact was limited to a few social engagements. Rexroth and Rakosi had a similarly superficial acquaintance in later years. While Rexroth described Oppen as “a remarkable poet” in one interview, he also told several people that Rakosi had been a secret Stalinist agent and privately accused George Oppen of being a hit man for the Communist Party, neither of which was even remotely true, and seems to have pursued an affair with George’s wealthy and well-connected sister June Oppen Degnan (A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, 138-141, 389, 408). Rexroth would later remark: “Almost all of the people that Zukofsky picked as Objectivists, didn’t agree with him, didn’t write like him or like one another, and didn’t want to be called Objectivists,” though this did not stop him from insisting on his own centrality at the 1973 National Poetry Conference held in Allendale, Michigan and dedicated to the “Objectivists” (American Poetry in the Twentieth Century, 111). According to Linda Hamalian: “Suffering from a bad back and in a vile mood, Rexroth had shown up a day late. He stormed into the conference dining room and cried, “They can’t do this to me.” Without saying hello, he walked to by the table where Mary and george Oppen, Robert Duncan, Leah and Carl Rakosi were sitting. He was irritated that he had been given a bunk in student quarters, like everyone else” (A Life of Kenneth Rexroth389). For a good account of Rexroth’s association with Zukofsky, Oppen, and Rakosi in the 1930s, see A Life of Kenneth Rexroth, 70-76.
12. Zukofsky had wanted to include Pound in his issue of Poetry, but Pound demurred, though Zukofsky’s contributor notes indicate that he had planned to include a blank page in the issue as Pound’s contribution to the issue: “The editor also regrets the omission of a blank page representing Ezra Pound’s contribution to the issue–a page reserved for him as an indication of his belief that a country tolerating outrages like article 211 of the U. S. Penal Code, publishers’ “overhead,” and other impediments to literary life, “does not deserve to have any literature whatsoever.” Mr. Pound gave over to younger poets the space offered him.” (295)
13. The surviving Niedecker-Zukofsky letters were collected and edited by Jenny Penberthy in Niedecker and the Correspondence with Zukofsky 1931–1970, published in 1993 by Cambridge University Press. My decision to refer to Niedecker as an “Objectivist” poet despite her absence from the early “Objectivist” publishing ventures and group publications is admittedly complicated. While Niedecker was attracted to the “Objectivist” issue of Poetry and deeply influenced by her relationship with Zukofsky, Jenny Penberthy and other attentive readers of Niedecker’s poetry have long noted her intellectual and poetic independence, including surrealist tendencies, of which Zukofsky did not approve, in both her earliest and latest poetry. See Penberthy in How2 and both Ruth Jennison and Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ contributions to Radical Vernacular (pp. 131-179).
14. Before the Oppens discontinued its operations, TO, Publishers published three works: An “Objectivists” Anthology, Williams’ A Novelette and Other Prose and Pound’s Prolegomena 1: How to Read, Followed by The Spirit of Romance, Part 1, all of which were issued as paperbacks from Le Beausset, France in 1932. The Oppens ran into a number of difficulties that hampered the press’ financial viability, including problems of editorial quality produced by having non-English speaking typesetters, numerous difficulties both importing the books into the United States and then marketing and selling them once they had reached New York City. Zukofsky, while an undeniably gifted editor, was, by his own admission, not a very skilled marketer or salesman.
15. The genesis for The Objectivist Press was a proposal, circulated by Zukofsky in May 1933, regarding the formation of a writer’s collaborative, which Zukofsky wanted to call Writers Extant [WE]. Williams found the idea too complicated, and Zukofsky, Williams, Reznikoff, and the Oppens discussed and revised Zukofsky’s prospectus for a writer’s collaborative and various names for it between May and October 1933, when they ultimately settled on The Objectivist Press and Reznikoff’s very simple editorial statement, which they published on their books’ dust jackets: “The Objectivist Press is an organization of writers who are publishing their work and that of other writers whose work they think ought to be read.”
16. Signs of trouble for the press were visible almost immediately. Zukofsky wrote to Pound about exhaustion and the possibility of his leaving the press as early as April 12, 1934: “have been sick myself tho working on a C.W. A. job, now transferred to Dep’t of Pub. Welfare, N.Y.C.–6 hrs of continual insult to the intelligence, 2 hrs travel, 1 hr. “lunch.” 9 hrs a day, & then 1-3 hrs of the Obj. Press when I get home. Municipal salary $19 a week. Other salary $0. Which leaves very little time for writing, but I’ve done some. … May have to resign Sec’y of Obj. Press if burden of work continues, & the effort spent on the press does not repay in the way of enough sales allowing us to continue. It’s a ha-a-rd job, & besides there may be necessity for direct action in another field (in add. to poetry)–and aside from publishing–I’m afraid there is now only I’m holding back. You were right last summer about staying clear of becoming an office boy–besides peeple dun’t appreciate.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 156-157).
17. The relationship between Williams, Zukofsky, and the Oppens appears to have been strained by late 1934, as a letter from Williams to Zukofsky in March 1935 indicates both that Williams hadn’t heard from Zukofsky for roughly 6 months and that Williams had heard that Zukofsky and the Oppens had had a falling out (The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 212). Zukofsky writes to Pound November 14, 1934 asking about the possibility of Faber & Faber printing his poem “Mantis,” and writes to Pound on February 17, 1935 asking explicitly for help in getting his 55 Poems manuscript published in England with Faber & Faber, which I take as a clear sign that the Objectivist Press had failed by this point: “You can, if it won’t hurt your own name, try and get me published with Faber & Faber. Serly off to Europe with my final arrangement and additions to 55 Poems–a most commendable typscript for you to look at. Time fucks it, and if I keep my MSS. in my drawer or my drawers, I might as well shut up altogether. … If you consent, think it opportune etc, to try my 55 on Faber & Faber, you need not worry about an introduction–I don’t want it–you can write a blurb for the dust-proof jacket if it jets out of you. Noo Yok at a standstill. Haven’t heart from Bill Willyums in moneths.” (Pound/Zukofsky, 160-161). A May 11, 1935 letter to Pound is perhaps Zukofsky’s most explicit statement on what he took as the lessons of the failure of his publishing efforts: “But you needn‘t tell me that “All good books are Blocked by the present fahrty system”-why n hell do you think I asked your aid? Between the New Masses crowd who can’t get the distinction that yr. poetry is one thing & yr. economics another, & yr. unwillingness to even look at my work to see what it says because I won’t embrace Social Credit, then last 3 years-I’ve not only lost whatever chance I might have had with commercial publishers, but have ostracized myself completely. I ain’t weeping about it-Im just seeing by my own lights. … I’ve sacrificed a good deal of my time with To, Objectivist Presscorresponding with 152 poetsetc. to get up an issue of Poetry, an anthology etc., & the good things which resulted were their own cheque. However, I don’t care to do it again. I‘ve even stopped seeing “close friendswho’ve envied my station-to put an end to the bad taste of it all. For example, it is amusing & to a slight degree cheering that The Rocking Horse 5 years after my advent at the Univ. of Wis. has got round to speaking about E.P., W.C.W. etc. as if they were not exactly taboo-but I’m not going to commend the kids or take up correspondence with ’em to keep you & Bill in shape” as you say. It won’t mean anything to you 1 yr. from now-& it won’t get me anywhere.” (The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, 120).
18. See Mark Scroggins’ “The Objectivists and their Publications.
19. In the case of Oppen, Rakosi, and Bunting, each of whom stopped writing and publishing poetry for long stretches.
20. In the case of Zukofsky, Niedecker, and Reznikoff.
21. Oppen published his first post-silence poems, fittingly, in Poetry magazine (the January 1960 issue contained five poems, his first publications in more than 25 years). His The Materials and Charles Reznikoff’s By the Waters of Manhattan were jointly published in 1962 by New Directions in partnership with George’s sister June Degnan Oppen, the publisher of The San Francisco Review.
22. Oppen published The Materials in 1962, This in Which in 1965, and Of Being Numerous in 1968, all with New Directions. Of Being Numerous won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1969. Reznikoff published By the Waters of Manhatan: Selected Verse in 1962 and Testimony, the United States, 1885-1890, the first volume of his long series of documentary poetry taken from the American legal record, in 1965, both with New Directions. After Testimony failed to sell well, New Directions dropped Reznikoff, and he returned to printing his work privately, self-publishing By the Well of Living and Seeing, and the Fifth Book of the Macabbees in 1969 before John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press began publishing his work in 1974. Zukofsky published four books with small presses between 1962 and 1964; editions containing the two halves of All, his collected short poems, were published in the United States and England between 1965 and 1967; his “A” 1-12 was published in London in 1966 and by Doubleday in New York in 1967; and both “A” 13-21 and his and Celia’s translations of Catullus were published in both London and New York in 1969. Bunting published Loquitur and his First Book of Odes with Stuart and Deidre Montgomery’s London-based Fulcrum Press in 1965, and his autobiographical long poem Briggflatts appeared to great acclaim, first in Poetry magazine in January 1966, and later that year in book form from Fulcrum. Fulcrum also published the first edition of his Collected Poems in 1968. Rakosi published Amulet, his first book in more than 25 years, with New Directions in 1967. Niedecker published My Friend Tree in 1961, but this was a small book with very limited distribution. In 1968, however, Niedecker published both her collection North Central with Stuart and Deidre Montgomery’s Fulcrum Press and her T & G: The Collected Poems (1936-1966) through Jonathan Williams’s Jargon Society.
23. William Carlos Williams was born on September 17, 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey; Charles Reznikoff was born on August 31, 1894 in New York City; Basil Bunting was born on March 1, 1900 in Scotswood-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England; Lorine Niedecker was born on May 12, 1903 on Black Hawk Island near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin; Carl Rakosi was born on November 6, 1903 in Berlin, Germany; Louis Zukofsky was born on January 23, 1904 in New York City; and George Oppen was born on April 24, 1908 in New Rochelle, New York.
24. William Carlos Williams died March 4, 1963, aged 79; Lorine Niedecker died December 31, 1970, aged 67; Charles Reznikoff died January 22, 1976, aged 81; Louis Zukofsky died May 12, 1978, aged 74; George Oppen died July 7, 1984, aged 76; Basil Bunting died April 17, 1985, aged 85; Carl Rakosi died June 25, 2004, aged 100. For comparison, Ezra Pound was born on October 30, 1885 in Hailey, Idaho and died on November 1, 1972 in Venice, Italy, aged 87.
25. Sharp’s previously unpublished dissertation, which contains a wealth of very well documented research on the extant correspondence between members of the “Objectivist” nexus in the late 1920s and early 1930s, is now available online: http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/index.html. See Chapters 1, 9, and 11 especially.
26. Tom Sharp has argued that as the magazine was the group’s “first public meeting place” it placed the “Objectivists” firmly within that “tradition in poetry for which Pound was the principal spokesman” and “expresses many of the principles, especially about the importance of group activity, that Pound continued to impress upon them” (http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/01.history.html)
27. His first major publication, “Poem Beginning ‘The'” appeared in The Exile 3, and the fourth and final issue of The Exile included another dozen or so pages from Zukofsky.
28. Williams’ “The Descent of Winter,” which Zukofsky had been instrumental in editing, was published in The Exile 4. Williams wrote to Pound on May 17, 1928: “Your spy Zukofsky has been going over my secret notes for you. At first I resented his wanting to penetrate- now listen! – but finally I sez to him, All right, go ahead. So he took my pile of stuff into the city and he works at it with remarkably clean and steady fingers (to your long distance credit be it said) and he ups and choses a batch of writin that yous is erbout ter git perty damn quick if it hits a quick ship – when it gets ready – which it aren’t quite yit. What I have to send you will be in the form of a journal, each bit as perfect in itself as may be. I am however leaving everything just as selected by Zukofsky. It may be later that I shall use the stuff differently.” (Pound/Williams, 82) Zukofsky and Wiliams had first met in April of that year, which means that Williams had known Zukofsky for less than 2 months at the time that he sent Pound this remarkable indication his editorial trust.
29. Pound published four poems by Rakosi in The Exile 2 and his poem “Extracts from A Private Life” in The Exile 4
30. The Exile 2 included McAlmon’s short story “Truer than Most Accounts” and an essay of his on Gertrude Stein was included in The Exile 4
31. His poem “Stunt Piece” was published in The Exile 3
32. Pound and Williams met as undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1902, and became friends during the year they were both enrolled there. In 1903, Pound transferred to Hamilton College, but continued to see Williams during school breaks when he returned to his parents’ home in Wyncote, a Philadelphia suburb. In 1905, Pound returned to Penn to begin work on his master’s degree, and they resumed their friendship in earnest. Williams left Philadelphia in 1906 for a medical internship in New York City, and Pound took his ill-fated job teaching foreign languages at Wabash College in a small Indiana town in 1907 (he was fired in the spring of 1908 and left for Europe shortly thereafter). Though no letters from Williams to Pound written prior to 1921 have survived, they corresponded regularly for the next several decades, and a significant portion of their extant correspondence can be found in Hugh Witemeyer’s Pound/Williams: The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and Williams Carlos Williams, published by New Directions in 1996. The early years of their friendship are briefly summarized on pages 3-5 of that book.
33. Pound recommended that Zukofsky look up Williams in a letter dated March 5, 1928. Zukofsky did so almost immediately–the two writers first met in a NY restaurant April 1, 1928, where Zukofsky asked Williams to read his work, and volunteered his own services as an editor of Williams’ unpublished manuscripts. Both liked each other immediately and each quickly sent back to Pound separate reports on their budding friendship.
34. Bunting wrote Zukofsky a postcard two days after his marriage to Marian Culver on Long Island that read, simply: “Dear Mr Zukofsky – Ezra Pound says I ought to look you up. May I?” Zukofsky assented, the two men quickly became friends, and would carry on a lengthy correspondence over the subsequent decades. See The Poem of a Life, pp. 73-74 and A Strong Song Tows Us, pp. 162-168 for more detailed accounts of the origin of Bunting and Zukofsky’s friendship.
35. The Letters of W.B. Yeats, ed. Allan Wade (MacMillan, New York, 1954), 759.
36. Pound first mentions Carl Rakosi in a letter to Zukofsky dated 25 October 1930 filled with advice about assembling his guest edited issue of Poetry, indicating that he “may be dead, I wish I cd. trace him” and passing along his last known address in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Pound/Zukofsky, 51).
37. Pound praises some “Reznikof prose” that Zukofsky had sent him as being “very good” in a letter dated December 9, 1929 and in January 1930, Zukofsky informs Pound of an upcoming meeting with Reznikoff in which he intends to “talk business” regarding plans to use Reznikoff’s printing press to publish and circulate a wider range of work. Their surviving letters from 1930 make several additional references to Reznikoff and Zukofsky’s “sincerity and objectification” essay on Reznikoff’s work in particular.
38. Zukofsky made reference to his having sent Pound several unpublished Oppen poems in a letter dated June 18, 1930. This manuscript was recently been found in the Pound papers held at Yale by the scholar David Hobbs and published by New Directions as 21 Poems. See pp. 26-44 of Pound/Zukofsky for the letters Pound and Zukofsky exchanged during the period in question.
39. Niedecker is first mentioned in the Pound/Zukofsky correspondence in February 1935, when Zukofsky writes “Glad you agreed with me as to the value of Lorine Niedecker’s work and are printing it in Westminster,” a reference to the Spring-Summer 1935 issue of Bozart-Westminster, which Pound edited with John Drummond and T.C. Wilson and which featured several poems and a dramatic scenario by Niedecker (161). Pound’s response was nasty–this was a particularly strained time in their relationship, largely exacerbated by political differences over fascism and economic theory.
40. Mary Wright, the wife of designer Russel Wright, introduced the Oppens to Louis Zukofsky at a party sometime in 1928. See Mary Oppen’s account of their meeting in Meaning a Life, 84-85.
41. Zukofsky spent the 1930-1931 academic year teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Oppens lived in California and France for significant periods in the early 1930s, but apart from these exceptions, this core group all lived within 20 miles of each other in the New York metro area from 1928 through 1935.
42. Bunting and his first wife, Marian Culver, were married on Long Island on July 9, 1930 and lived in Brooklyn Heights from July 1930-January 1931, when Bunting’s six-month visa expired and the couple returned to Rapallo, Italy. Williams references having supper with the Buntings and Robert McAlmon in a January 15, 1931 letter included in The Correspondence of William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, 77. A finding list of all extant correspondence between Zukofsky, Pound, Eliot, and Williams has been compiled by Barry Ahearn and can be found at http://www2.tulane.edu/liberal-arts/english/ahearn/zukofsky_search_form.cfm
43. The Oppens had financed the publication by TO, Publishers of a book consisting of two of Pound’s prose works. They met with Pound in a Parisian café to inform him that they could not carry on their publishing efforts for financial reasons and that they would not print his ABC of Economics, as he had hoped. For Mary Oppen’s later account of their relationship with Pound and Bunting during this time, see her Meaning a Life, pp. 131-137.
44. Rakosi stopped reading and writing verse entirely towards the end of his time in New York City. Rakosi, who had changed his name to Callman Rawley for professional reasons, earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and married Leah Jaffe in the spring of 1939. Following what he described as “a dreadful existential state, something grey and purposeless between living and dying, and so physical that for a while I was sure I was going to die” that came on when he realized that he was going to stop writing poetry, Rakosi took a job in Saint Louis in 1940 and “went on with my life as a social worker and therapist” (Autobiography in Contemporary Autobiography series, 208). For more on this period in Rakosi’s life, see http://theobjectivists.org/the-lives/carl-rakosi/.
45. Carl Rakosi visited Lorine Niedecker at her home in 1967/8 [details needed]. Though Bunting and Niedecker did not meet in person until June 1967, when Bunting and his daughters visited Niedecker at her Blackhawk Island home, they had known each other through correspondence, and for a short time Bunting had explored the possibility of going into the carp-seining business with Niedecker’s father Henry. Niedecker wrote to Cid Corman on June 15, 1966: “Basil Bunting–yes, I came close to meeting him when he was in this country in the 30’s. Some mention at the time of his going into the fishing business (he had yeoman muscles LZ said and arrived in New York with a sextant) with my father on our lake and river but it was the depression and at that particular time my dad felt it best to ‘lay low’ so far as starting fresh with new equipment was concerned and a new partner – the market had dropped so low for our carp – and I believe BB merely lived a few weeks with Louie without engaging in any business. He’s probably a very fine person and I’ve always enjoyed his poetry” (Faranda, “Between Your House and Mine“: The Letters of Lorine Niedecker to Cid Corman, 1960-1970, 88).
46. For more on this period in Pound’s life, see J.J. Wilhelm’s Ezra Pound: The Tragic Years, pp. 336-357, especially
47. Interview with Dembo, CL, 194. In the interview, Reznikoff would go on to extend the analogy more explicitly to the judicial context: “Now suppose in a court of law, you are testifying in a negligence case. You cannot get up on the stand and say, “The man was negligent.” That’s a conclusion of fact. What you’d be compelled to say is how the man acted. Did he stop before he crossed the street? Did he look? The judges of whether he is negligent or not are the jury in that case and the judges of what you say as a poet are the readers. That is, there is an analogy between testimony in the courts and the testimony of a poet,” 195.
48. These include his prose statements in the February and April 1931 issues of Poetry magazine as well as his preface to An “Objectivists” Anthology.
49. He told Kimberly Bird: “Niedecker, by the way, was not a part of it at this time. I think I was the one really who first called her an Objectivist, because I thought that she was the most Objectivist of us all, and she is.”
50. Interview with George Evans and August Kleinzahler in Conjunctions, 221. It should be noted that Rakosi was not present in New York City in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and thus only had contact with Zukofsky via letters. Consequently, some of his recollections about the initial character of the group are less accurate than those made by participants in the early meetings.
51. See Kenneth Rexroth’s famously dismissive (and possibly apocryphal) riposte to a Time magazine article designating him the “father of the ‘Beats'”: “An entomologist is not a bug” (qtd. in the introduction to Rexroth: Complete Poems, eds. Sam Hamill and Bradford Morrow, xxvi).
52. Interview with Dembo, 205
53. http://sharpgiving.com/Objectivists/sections/01.history.html
54. Pound’s role in setting this up–his four long advice letters on 24, 25 and 28 October to Zukofsky after getting word from Monroe that she’d give him an issue to edit (Pound/Zukofsky, 45-59)
55. Pound had hoped that Zukofsky’s issue might be an ‘American’ issue, and he hoped to persuade Monroe to follow it up by allowing Basil Bunting to edit an ‘English’ issue, and René Taupin to edit a ‘French’ issue. While Monroe never again gave full editorial control of an entire issue of Poetry to anyone Pound had recommended, Bunting was involved in the selection of the poetry included in the ‘English Number,’ published in February 1932, exactly one year after the “Objectivists” issue. The ‘English Number’ included both Bunting’s satirical poem “Fearful Symmetry” as well as his savage review article entitled “English Poetry Today,” which opened by stating: “There is no poetry in England, none with any relation to the life of the country, or of any considerable section of it” and proceeded to insult nearly everything upon which Bunting settled his attention (264).
56. For example, Reznikoff wrote his friends Al and Mildred Lewin in February 1931: “There is a learned article about my verse in Poetry for this month from which I learn that I am “an objectivist” (Selected Letters of Charles Reznikoff, 156). Even allowing for the possibility of wry self-deprecation, which would have been characteristic of Reznikoff, this can hardly be construed as evidence that the various writers presented in Zukofsky’s issue of Poetry consciously thought of themselves as members of a new group. Carl Rakosi, who was even further removed from the planning and conversations between Zukofsky, Williams,Reznikoff, and the Oppens in New York City, would later recall: “[I]n a sense Zukofsky foiled Harriet Monroe, was thumbing his nose at her: he never did define Objectivist as something with its own special properties and character, and he never meant to. He just wanted to get by. … When Zukofsky first wrote to sound out my reaction to the term Objectivist, I was going my own way and was not connected to anybody and wrote back that it was all right. I couldn’t say it wasn’t. To be objective was one of my goals. But whatever he worked out with her would be all right with me. I just wanted to be in the magazine, and when it appeared there I was, displayed in a showcase as a member of a new movement, suddenly important, bigger than life, discovered. I couldn’t help feeling wildly elated, at the same time thinking: Objectivist? Who, me? Why not? Maybe. What a cockamamie definition, however. But at the time I attached no significance to the thing. Nor did the others. I didn’t think anyone else would attach significance to it either.” (Interview with Evans and Kleinzahler, 222)
57. Confused but curious readers wrote to Monroe and Poetry magazine almost immediately for clarification, and Zukofsky’s testy replies didn’t seem to help much. In the correspondence section of the April 1931 issue of Poetry, Harriet Monroe edited a clutch of reader letters inquiring about Zukofsky’s issue. Stanley Burnshaw asked explicitly: “Is Objectivist poetry a programmed movement (such as the Imagists instituted), or is it a rationalization undertaken by writers of similar subjective predilections and tendencies[?] … Is there a copy of the program of the Objectivist group available?” (53).  In his reply to some of Burnshaw’s other questions Zukofsky emphasized the fundamental individuality of the serious writer: “Interpretation differs between individuals and sometimes there are schools of poetry; i.e., there is agreement among individuals. But linguistic usage and the context of related words naturally influence an etiquette of interpretation (common to individuals, and, it has been said, “for an age”–though all kinds of people live in an “age”)” before both dodging and dismissing Burnshaw’s question, claiming: “To those interested in programmed movements “Objectivist” poetry will be a “programmed movement.” The editor was not a pivot, the contributors did not rationalize about him together; out of appreciation for their sincerity of craft and occasional objectification he wrote the program of the February issue of Poetry” and brusquely recommending Burnshaw reread the other prose statements in the issue (56).
58. Westminster Magazine 23, no. 1 (Spring 1934), “Notes on Contributors”, 6. This was the second of two installments of the work published in Westminster Magazine. The first, published in the Winter 1933 issue, had included the following as its contributor’s note: “MR ZUKOFSKY is the leader of Objectivism in America; his work has appeared in the better American and European magazines.”
59. Dembo interview, x, 2.
60. Nearly all of the writers in Zukofsky’s circle would have heartily approved of most of the advice dispensed in the ‘Language’ section of Pound’s “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste”, including his counsel: “Don’t use such an expression as “dim lands of peace.” It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol. Go in fear of abstractions.”
61. While not everyone involved in the group was as unfailingly precise in their usage [e.g. Williams, Rezi], most other members of the group were similarly scrupulous in their distinction between -ist and -ism.[examples from Oppen & Rakosi]
62. Zukofsky, while an intellectually committed Marxist, never formally joined the Communist Party, for example, and while both Rakosi and the Oppens did, neither lasted long as members, nor did either of them feel comfortable mixing their political activism and poetic activity.Both George Oppen and Carl Rakosi, they too strongly valued their poetic independence to surrender their voices to party propaganda. A similar ambivalence and outright antipathy towards political parties and large organizations more generally can be clearly seen in both Lorine Niedecker and Basil Bunting’s work. Reznikoff’s case is likewise interesting–as the author of Holocaust and Testimony, he remains one of the 20th century’s most important documentary poets, and was married for much of his adult life to Marie Syrkin, who, as the daughter of Socialist Zionist theorist Nachman Syrkin, was herself the close friend and biographer of Golda Meir and the longtime editor of Jewish Frontier, the leading Labor Zionist publication in the English-speaking world, though he himself remained more or less unaffiliated with any explicitly partisan causes.
63. (203)
64. Pound and Flint’s essays can be read online at the Poetry Foundation’s webiste here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=58900 and here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=58898.
65. F.S. Flint on the imagistes: “They had not published a manifesto. They were not a revolutionary school; their only endeavor was to write in accordance with the best tradition, as they found it in the best writers of all time,–in Sappho, Catullus, Villon. … They had only a few rules, drawn up for their satisfaction only … They were: 1. Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective. 2. To use absolutely no word that did not contribute to the presentation. 3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.” (199). Taken alone, it’s possible to read Flint’s description of the imagistes here as fully applicable to Zukofsky’s “Objectivists” as well.
66. In a December 7, 1931 letter to Ezra Pound, Zukofsky referred to his in-process long poem “A” as “following out of your don’ts almost to the letter” (Pound/Zukofsky, 110-111). In his 1969 interview with L.S. Dembo, Charles Reznikoff recalled: “When I was twenty-one [c. 1915], I was particularly impressed by the new kind of poetry being written by Ezra Pound, H. D., and others, with sources in French free verse. It seemed to me just right, not cut to patterns, however cleverly, nor poured into ready molds–that sounds like an echo of Pound–but words and phrases flowing as the thought; to be read just like common speech–that sounds like Whitman–but for stopping at the end of each line: and this like a rest in music or a turn in the dance” (194). When asked about his recollections of his conversations with Oppen and Zukofsky regarding ‘objectivist technique’ Reznikoff told Dembo: “Well, I hate to take any aura from our talks as I remember them, if they have any to begin with, but we talked about something quite practical. We couldn’t get our poetry accepted by regular publishers, so we thought it would be nice if we organized our own publishing firm, with each of us paying for the printing of his own book. We picked the name “Objectivist” because we had all read Poetry of Chicago and we agreed completely with all that Pound was saying. We didn’t really discuss the term itself; it seemed all right-pregnant. It could have meant any number of things. But the mere fact that we didn’t discuss its meaning doesn’t deprive it of its validity. … I think we all agreed that the term “objectivism,” as we understood Pound’s use of it, corresponded to the way we felt poetry should be written. And that included Williams, too. What we were reacting from was Tennyson. We were anti-Tennysonian. His kind of poetry didn’t represent the world we knew-the streets of New York or of East Rutherford or Paterson. It might have represented the idyllic countryside where Tennyson lived, I don’t doubt, or the world in which Swinburne lived–that semi-classical world. We recognized its validity; I’m sure we all felt how good were things like “the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces” or the beginning of “The Lotos-Eaters.” Some of it was magnificent, but it wasn’t us.” (196-197). Rakosi, who was corresponding with Zukofsky from Texas while other members of the group were regularly meeting in New York City in the early 1930s, would later express decidedly more negative views of what he considered to be Pound’s personal grandiosity and the epic tone he adopted in the Cantos, but nonetheless prefaced his criticism in his 1969 interview with Dembo by stating “I had better admit that I believe that Pound’s critical writing–particularly the famous “Don’ts” essay–is an absolute foundation stone of contemporary American writing” (180). Similarly, though Pound and the Oppens diverged on a number of very important points, Mary Oppen recalled in a November 1976 conversation with Serge Fauchereau that “We understood the importance of Pound, and to us he was a tremendous figure” (Speaking with George Oppen, 132).
67. Joyce Hopkins, listed as the author of the one-line poem “University: Old-Time,” was an invented name used for Zukofsky’s poetic refashioning of a letter from his friend Roger Kaigh
68. Zukofsky wrote to Pound on 15 March 1932 chastising himself for sacrificing his money, time, and energy without a serious promise of publication, and announced that ‘he would no longer submit work unsolicited or without pay, especially for editors like Putnam,’ though there would be several more cruel lessons for Zukofsky to learn about the poetry and publishing “biz” in the years to come.
69. Letters from Zuk to Pound March 15 and April 20
70. Even though Bruce Humphries of Boston had taken over their distribution, by July the Oppens’ financial burden had become excessive. Pound wrote to Zukofsky: “With O’s capital attacked (as he has prob. writ. you) the question of cooperation ??? etc. Also grave question of how it affects yr/ salary.”43 Zukofsky wrote on 8 August 1932, disappointed and apologetic, that Oppen could neither continue To Publishers nor his salary.44 Oppen had paid him $100 each month from November 1931, but after this it was reduced to $50 and ended altogether in October.45 The Oppens published the anthology in August 1932, this time, perhaps because they had already left Var, using a printer in Dijon, and Pound reviewed it in the Chicago Tribune (Paris) on 2 September 1932.46
71. Mary Oppen, in Meaning A Life: “Later, at almost the same moment that George and I terminated To Publishers, James Laughlin founded New Directions. Since then he has continued to publish fine books through the many years, and he deserves the credit for carrying the burden of running a business in the interest of publishing poetry.” (131)
72. In fact, Pound began urging Zukofsky to “form a group” to continue the momentum and impulse of his magazine The Exile in his second ever letter to Zukofsky, sent in February 1928: “Also any of your contemporaries with whom you care to associate. Somebody OUGHT to form a group in the U.S. to make use of the damn thing now that I have got in motion. Failing development of some such cluster I shall stop with No. 6. [of The Exile]” Pound/Zukofsky, 6. In his next letter, sent March 5, 1928, Pound urges Zukofsky to introduce himself to William Carlos Williams, and forwards on his address. After receiving reports that Zukofsky and Williams had met and established a literary friendship, Pound’s next letter (dated August 12, 1928) includes several pages of advice and suggestions, including his urging  Zukofsky to “make an effort toward restarting some sort of life in N.Y.; sfar as I know there has been none in this sense since old Stieglitz organized (mainly foreign group) to start art. … I suggest you form some sort of gang to INSIST on interesting stuff (books) (1.) being pubd. promptly, and distributed properly. 2. simultaneous attacks in as many papers as poss. on abuses definitely damaging la vie intellectuelle. … there are now several enlightened members of yr. body impolitic [meaning the United States] that might learn the val. of group action” (11). Acting on Pound’s suggestions, Zukofsky contacted a number of writers Pound had recommended to him, including Joseph [Joe] Vogel, an aspiring young writer who had recently graduated from Pound’s alma mater Hamilton College and, like Pound, had studied Romance languages. Vogel responded to Zukofsky’s overtures by writing directly to Pound, an in a November 21, 1928 letter Pound sent Vogel his beliefs regarding “the science of GROUPS,” and instructed him to share the contents of his letter with Zukofsky. His advice: “at the start you must find the 10% of matters that you agree on and the 10% plus value in each other’s work.” Second, you should not expect a group to remain constant: “Take our groups in London. The group of 1909 had disappeared without the world being much the wiser. Perhaps a first group can only prepare the way for a group that will break through. The one or two determined characters will pass through 1st to 2nd or third groups.” Thirdly, “No use starting to crit. each other at start. Anyhow it requires more crit. faculty to discover the hidden 10% positive, than to fuss about 90% obvious imperfection. You talk about style, and mistrusting lit. socs. etc. Nacherly. Mistrust people who fuss about paint and finish before they consider girders and structure.” Fourth, “You ’all’ presumably want some sort of intelligent life not dependent on cash, and salesmanship. . . . Point of group is precisely to have somewhere to go when you don’t want to be bothered about salesmanship. (Paradox?? No.)” And, finally, “When you get five men who trust each other you are a long way to a start. If your stuff won’t hold the interest of the four or of someone in the four, it may not be ready to print.” (Pound, Letter to Vogel, 21 November 1928, The Selected Letters, pp. 219-221, No. 231. Here Vogel is named “James” instead of “Joseph.) Vogel replied (find this response at Yale?) to which Pound sent a more exasperated outburst on 23 January 1929: “Dear Vogel: Yr. painfully evangelical epistle recd. if you are looking for people who agree with you!!!! How the hell many points of agreement do you suppose there were between Joyce, W. Lewis, Eliot and yrs. truly in 1917; or between Gaudier and Lewis in 1913; or between me and Yeats, etc.?” Pound recommended that if Vogel respected decent writing, writing which expressed a man’s ideas, then he ought to exchange his with others who have “ideas of any kind (not borrowed clichés) that irritate you enough to make you think or take out your own ideas and look at ’em.” (Pound, Letter to Vogel, 23 January 1929, The Selected Letters, p. 222, No. 234.) More on Vogel/Pound correspondence in Paideuma 27:2-3 [Fall/Winter 1998], 197-225.
73. On Niedecker’s politics, see: http://steelwagstaff.info/lorine-niedecker-and-the-99/
74. A volume of selected Pound-Williams letters containing roughly 30 percent of the extant correspondence was edited by Hugh Witemeyer and published by New Directions in 1996.
75. Williams he knew from their days together at Penn, Bunting he knew as a co-dweller at Rapallo, and Zukofsky had written him with admiration for both his prose statements and more importantly, the poetic accomplishments of his early Cantos.

LZ – Williams [via Pound, in person in NYC staring April 1, 1928]

LZ – Bunting [via Pound, Bunting sent Zuk a card upon his arrival in New York in 1930 as a newlywed. They also spent time together in Rapallo during Zukofsky’s trip to Europe in 1933]

LZ – Rakosi [via Pound’s introduction, through letters [starting winter 1930] until 1935, when Rakosi moved to NYC and they were friends who met socially on a regular basis until 1939-1940, when both men married and Rakosi and his wife left NYC for his career.]

LZ – Oppen [met in NYC in 1929]

LZ – Reznikoff [Unclear how they met, probably through the Menorah Journal]

LZ – Niedecker [through letters beginning Sept/Oct 1931, met in person several times, first in late fall 1933, when she lived with him until early 1934. She returned in April 1934 and again in 1935 (when she fell pregnant). Jerry Raisman and LZ visited LN in September 1936. LZ met Celia in January 1934 (while Niedecker was staying with him), they were dating seriously by 1937, and married August 20, 1939 in Wilmington, Delaware, with Niedecker there on the day they married, though not probably at the wedding?]

LZ bio states that LZ knew Rezi somehow prior to meeting WCW. Sent WCW Rezi poems in May 1929, and to EP in November 1929.

Bunting and Pound met by chance in a Parisian cafe in the 20s, Bunting writes letter of introduction (at Pound’s urging) to LZ in July 1930, just before LZ goes to Madison for the academic year. LZ returned to NYC for the holidays just before the Objectivist issue appeared, and had christmas dinner with Bunting’s wife Marian.

LZ introduced Niedecker to Ian Hamilton Finlay, via Gael Turnbull.

LZ: “The objectivist, then, is one person, not a group, and as I define him he is interested in living with the things as they exist, and as a ‘wordsman,’ he is a craftsman who puts words together into an object.”

Pound’s active anthology includes work by Williams, Oppen, Bunting and Pound.

Pound’s strongest links: Williams, Zukofsky, Bunting, and to a lesser extent Rakosi (who he published in Exile) and Oppen & Reznikoff (both of whom Zukofsky championed–and of the two, Oppen was the only one Pound engaged with meaningfully in that period–including him in his Active Anthology and writing the preface to his Discrete Series).

Bunting’s strongest links: with Pound and Zukofsky. Met Williams in NYC in 1930-31, and the Oppens in Rapallo.

Zukofsky’s strongest links: with Pound, Williams, Oppen, Reznikoff, Bunting, Rakosi and Niedecker. The only one to be connected to each other node.

Williams’ strongest links: with Pound and Zukofsky, and via the publishing venture with Reznikoff and Oppen

Oppens’ strongest links: with Zukofsky, Reznikoff, and Williams, followed by Pound [met in Europe before Zukofsky–also met Bunting]. Met LN in NYC in 1933/4 during her visit to NYC.

Reznikoff’s strongest links: ??? participated in the publishing venture with Williams, Zukofsky, and Oppen and admired Pound’s prose statements about poetics

Rakosi’s strongest links: with Zukofsky and to a much lesser extent, with Pound (his time in NYC just straddled the Objectivist heyday–he was there for several months in 1925, and didn’t return until 1935–when he befriended Zukofsky, but the others were disbanding)

Niedecker’s strongest links: with Zukofsky. Met Reznikoff and the Oppens in 1933/34, but while they were friendly, none of them formed a meaningful bond or corresponded at any length. Zukofsky visited with Jerry Reisman in 1937?–proposed Bunting going into business with her father, but nothing came of it.